The home for the country’s first citizen continues to be the top consumer of government funds in efforts to make it habitable for whoever becomes its occupant.
It has emerged that the government recently spent P10 million in renovating the State House to make it suitable for President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to call it home.
“Yes, we have spent approximately P10 million in fixing the building which seems to have long surpassed its lifespan,” this was confirmed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Affairs Thato Ramodimoosi when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, much to the amazement of committee members.
The amount came as a shock because just a decade ago, when former President Ian Khama moved to State House, the Bill for the renovations was approximately P17 million.
At the time the nation was told that the building was in a bad state and almost inhabitable, just a few weeks after the country’s third president Dr Festus Mogae had moved out.
Ramodimoosi however, said that he was not aware of any plans to build a new State House outside the city saying that President Masisi has already moved his personal belongings in.
He said that the occupation was delayed by heavy rains in April that exposed a seriously leaking roof and it had to be fixed. “The President has moved some of his belongings there and he is doing some of his official work from there, he holds meetings there,” said Ramodimoosi who was faced with a heavy bombardment of questions from legislators who also demanded to know about the sour relationship between Khama and Masisi.
The Permanent Secretary said that all he knows is that there is a law or an Act that prescribes what benefits former presidents are entitled to – the number of staff, the type of vehicles he is entitled to, and others.
He said that the apparent root cause of the ‘perceived’ friction was that there seems to have been a separate arrangement outside of the Act, that the former president relied on to make more demands beyond what he is entitled to.
However, he said things have normalized. “The matter is now water under the bridge as far as I know”.