6 December 2018

Botswana: State House Fails Security Clearance

Nine months after ascending the presidency, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has not moved into his new residence, the State House, and will not do so anytime soon because of on-going renovations and debugging, this publication has learnt.

Highly placed sources at the Office of the President and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services have confided that the residence for number one citizen has failed the safety and security inspections. "We have discovered that there have been some hidden surveillance cameras and other listening devices which are yet to be removed from the house," a source alleges.

Security agents with assistance of some IT experts are said to have tried to spruce up and sanitize State House and the gardens but kept discovering that some devices event after the whole clean up.

Former President Ian Khama moved out of the state house in March 2018 in order to pave the way for its renovations before his successor moved in. Owing to growing mistrust which culminated in a fallout between the two former political allies is said to have led to Masisi ordering that the how just vacated by his predecessor be searched for any hidden spying devices and be sanitized as he suspects he might be spied on. Masisi only uses the State House to hold official events like hosting the Independence state banquet.

Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi confirmed that President Masisi has not yet moved to the state house as it is still being renovated but refused to comment on the issue of security at the house. "I don't know anything about debugging and won't comment on that," he said.

Another major concern raised by some members of the public regarding the state of the first residence is its safety for occupancy with suggestions that it should be demolished as it is too old. In 2003 Government spent P25 million for renovations and maintenance of the State House which included phase 2 which consists of the construction of new ablution facilities, the refurbishment of old toilets, the construction of two gate houses, the gate keepers' day room, the installation of CCTV cameras and a car park. The phase commenced in July 2006 and was completed in October 2007. Phase three comprised the refurbishment of the main house, cottage and landscaping of the main garden.

During the 2008/2009 financial year, the Office of the President (OP) requested P10 million to be spent on the refurbishment of State House. The money was used for the conversion of the old Serious Crime Squad offices to provide accommodation for the BDF sentries at the State House. The converted facility was to provide accommodation for approximately 60 officers. Among other things, the building was to have a commander's office, armoury, radio room, kitchen, dining room and gym.

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