Former Botswana President Ian Khama has rejected claims that he fled the country to neighbouring South Africa after a court ordered him to surrender his weapons to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).
According to Mmegi, a Botswana newspaper, Khama allegedly fled the country whilst in a stalemate with the intelligence agency on how the former’s weapons should be handed to its Sebele office.
He reportedly left Serowe on Monday morning heading for Gaborone, but his trip was allegedly altered as it took him to his farm in Tswapong, possibly just as a “decoy”.
The former president allegedly ended up at the Martin’s Drift border where he supposedly parted ways with his usual security detail.
Private security took over as Khama crossed the border into South Africa pressing his own security detail to return home.
A helicopter believed to be waiting in one of the farms allegedly airlifted him without following the normal travel protocols, which raised fears that Khama could have skipped the country ahead of handing in the weapons.
The former president, in his response to Mmegi enquiries, rubbished reports of skipping the country calling the allegations “hogwash”. He said:
I am in SA and I don’t need permission from anyone to travel. I haven’t skipped the country. I have travelled to SA as many other people do.
Protocol, however, demands that ahead of any travel, Khama as a former president should declare to the Office of the President (OP) and the foreign affairs ministry his travel plans and details.
Unconfirmed information also suggests that Khama could have dashed to Pretoria to report his security concerns to SA President Cyril Ramaphosa, to seek guidance in the midst of his troubles with President Mokgweetsi Masisi-led government’s perceived harassment.
However, Khama was yet to respond whether he planned to meet Ramaphosa or not in an enquiry sent to him by the publication on Monday morning.
Quizzed about Khama’s alleged travel outside the country without adherence to the travel protocols, permanent secretary to the President (PSP) Emma Peloetletse told Mmegi she was not aware that Khama had travelled. Said Peloetletse:
My office is not aware of Khama’s possible travel outside the country. Ordinarily, when he travels outside the country, protocol dictates that such travel is cleared with the OP.