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Detailed Ombudsman report on Mosu inquest

The Ombudsman, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe has cleared President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of any wrongdoing in a matter in which the Botswana Congress Party had alleged maladministration and abuse of office by the President. 

The BCP had complained that President Khama abused his office by using public resources to build his Mosu home. 

“On my assumption of duty as Ombudsman in June 2016, I found one of the high profile matters lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman being a complaint titled “President Khama’s Alleged Abuse of Office and Public Funds and Resources”. 

Given the high profile nature of the case and the fact that two years and nine months had lapsed since receipt of the complaint, with only preliminary action on the matter having been taken, it became imperative for me to assess the preliminary action and proceed with the matter,” the Ombudsman says in his report. 

Makgonatsotlhe’s investigation focused on three main allegations raised by the complainant namely, that Botswana Defence Force (BDF) resources were employed to build houses at President 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”. 

With respect to the last allegation, the BCP had wanted the Ombudsman to establish if there was no abuse of office and military resources on the part of the State President. 

Among those that were interviewed were representatives of the complainant, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang, and Daisy Bathusi; and Government officials. 

Other action entailed gathering of documentary and other evidence from various Government Ministries and Departments such as Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Government owned Water Utilities Corporation and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB). 

The Ombudsman himself, and his Deputy William Moncho, visited the main subject of the complaint, President Khama’s residence at Mosu and the airstrip adjacent to the homestead. 

All in all, the Ombudsman found no evidence of maladministration on the part of the President. 

“It is my determination in this matter therefore, that: 

i) The complaints regarding the construction of the buildings on H.E. the President’s plot at Mosu and the water connection thereto, lack merit and are not supported by any evidence, either provided by the complainants or discovered through the investigation hereof. 

They thus stand to be dismissed, as they hereby are. ii) The airstrip still belongs to the President but was fenced and is maintained by the CAAB at a cost to the nation. 

This is consistent with past practice of providing safe landing facilities to the sitting Head of State and cannot amount to inequitable action nor maladministration. 

Neither does the associated cost of its maintenance amount to a loss or an injustice to the nation. 

iii) No clear injustice to the complainants in their own right or as a political party representing the interests of members of the public has been shown to have occurred in this matter. 

The Ombudsman notes in the report his concern over what he terms “Botswana Congress Party’s seeming abuse of process of the Office of the Ombudsman”. 

“In analysing the Mosu Case and referring to previous reports on matters brought to our Office by Botswana Congress Party, we have observed that all complaints lodged [by the party] precede general elections”. 

He observes that the 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 September 2014 – a little over a month before the 2014 general elections. 

The Ombudsman independently investigates issues of maladministration in the Public Sector and recommends solutions to individual and systemic administrative problems. ENDS

Source : OMBUDSMAN

Author : Ombudsman

Location : GABORONE

Event : Report

Date : Feb 01 Thu,2018

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