The Ombudsman, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe has cleared President Ian Khama of any wrong doing in a matter in which Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has alleged maladministration and abuse of Office of the President.
The BCP had complained that Khama is abusing his office by using public resources to build his Mosu home. Makgonatsotlhe said in his findings that he has observed that all complaints lodged by BCP precede general elections.
“BCP launched the aircraft case against Khama at the time he was Vice President on the 15th of September 1999, about a month before the 1999 elections; lodged allegations of abuse of state media on or just before the 2009 general elections; and brought allegations about abuse of public office and resources by the president on the 15th of September 2014- a little over a month before the 2014 general elections,” observed Ombudsman.
In the current case Makgonatsotlhe revealed that when he got into office in June 2016 given the high profile nature of the case and the fact that, two years and nine months had elapsed since receipt of the complaint, it became imperative for him to assess the preliminary action and proceed with the matter.
He said he focused on three main allegations - that Botswana Defence Force (BDF) resources were employed to build houses at Khama’s Mosu home; public resources (BDF personnel and equipment) were employed to build an airstrip on the president’s private property, with cost to the public and finally the continued abuse of BDF resources by the president.
Makgonatsotlhe stated in the report that he interviewed BCP Vice President Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang and BCP Women’s League President Daisy Bathusi and government officials. He said evidence was gathered from various sources within government and a visit to Mosu was undertaken.
“All in all, the Ombudsman found no evidence of maladministration on the part of the President. It is my determination that the complaints lack merit and are not supported by any evidence, either provided by the complainants or discovered through the investigation hereof. They therefore stand to be dismissed.
“The airstrip still belongs to the president but was fenced and is maintained by Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) at a cost to the nation. This is consistent with the past practice of providing safe landing facilities to the sitting Head of State and cannot amount to inequitable action nor maladministration,” ruled Makgonatsotlhe.
BCP President Dumelang Saleshando said he could not comment on the report because as the complainant they have not been furnished with it. He expressed shock that the report is now in the public domain before the complainant could receive it, stating this is an anomaly. He said they would have to first get the copy before they could comment on the findings. The BCP leader stated that even in their past complaints with the Ombudsman before Makgonatsotlhe, they got the reports before they were made public.