A Bill amending retirement benefits of former presidents of Botswana, the PRESIDENT PENSION, RETIREMENT BENEFITS (AMENDMENT) BILL, was passed by Parliament on Thursday 06 April 2017. Presented by the then Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale, the Bill amended the current legislation to now allow former Presidents to receive their pension and benefits, even if they subsequently hold paid public office, either directly or indirectly.
Further, under the amended law, former presidents now have access to any mode of government transport on a case by case basis, with the permission from the sitting president. Contrary to falsehoods peddled by Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi last week that former president Ian Khama forced his preferences to be endorsed by technocracts, a quick reflection of developments on the floor of Parliament two years ago shows how elected Members of Parliament, among them Vice President Slumber Tsogwane sold out to Khama.
Supporting the Bill, MP for Tonota, Thapelo Olopeng said former presidents should be allowed to work after retiring from the presidency so that they could share their knowledge and experiences both locally and abroad. “We should change the mindset that retired presidents are old men who should be waiting for death. One day we will have a 40-year-old president who will retire aged 50,” Olopeng said.
Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the Serowe South MP, said allowing former presidents to have access additional modes of transport on a case by case basis would help when former presidents are required to undertake significant international trips.
Mmathethe-Molapowabojang MP, Dr Alfred Madigele also concurred that former presidents should be allowed when appropriate to use different modes of transport belonging to government.
MP for Boteti West, Slumber Tsogwane said former presidents needed to continue contributing positively to development of this country even after retiring. Therefore, he pointed out that it was progressive for the minister to be amending the law to allow them to continue to receive their benefits in such circumstance like other retirees.
However, the Bill received criticism from members of the opposition bench with Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi saying it was crafted to push the interest of the current president. Mmolotsi wondered why the minister was amending the existing law on benefits on retired presidents, which he said entitled them to good retirement packages. He also criticised the proposal to give former presidents access to any mode of government transport. “We cannot afford to fund people’s lifestyles because lifestyles are expensive. We should provide the basics only,” he said, asking for removal of the clause from the Bill.
Also criticising the Bill was Gaborone Bonnington North MP, Duma Boko, who said retired presidents should not be indulged with many benefits at the expense of suffering citizens. He warned that doing that would lead to resentment on former presidents by citizens.
Also objecting was MP for Ramotswa, Samuel Rantuana, who urged Parliament to address poverty issues and improve the conditions of public officers instead of coming up with laws aimed at enriching former presidents. (Source: BWGovernment, BOPA)