The MP for Maun East Konstantinos Markus walked out of the Public Accounts Committee hearing on Wednesday in a fit of anger directed at the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Kabelo Ebineng for allegedly refusing to state when they will pay people who were relocated for the expansion of Maun Airport. In an extraordinary outburst, Markus said he cannot sit and listen to people ‘ba ba shetang botshelo’ when ordinary people who paved way for the airport have not been paid for over 10 years. He wanted to know when the Ministry of Transport and Communications will pay the outstanding balance for people who were relocated but Ebineng said those people need to come to their office and show evidence that they are indeed owed. “Our records are incomplete and some information has been lost and they must bring evidence that they are still owed,” he said, infuriating the Maun East MP further. Markus told him that he is sitting in his air-conditioned offices and homes while the people are suffering. He told Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile who sits opposite him in the committee room that Ebineng was irritating him. “Ke gore ha ke mo leba jaana ke utlwa bothoko (when I look at him I feel sad),” he said with his eyes fixed on Ebineng. He then gathered his papers and muttered that he cannot sit in the same room with Ebineng and walked out.
Markus said what angers him is that in 2015 the then PS in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Goitsemang Morekisi informed PAC that the residents would be paid their dues as soon as her ministry concluded consultations. According to him, she said the only reason they were delaying to pay the residents was because they were working with two other departments being Ministry of Lands and Housing and the Attorney General Chambers. He was frustrated that the new PS has now changed the issue. In 2011, some 256 people who were relocated sued the government for over P5 million for breach of contract. In their class action suit, filed with the Francistown High Court on the 27th of July 2010, the residents contended that sometime in 1997, the parties agreed that the plaintiff would be relocated to a new site so that government could expand the Maun airport into the area in which they had hitherto inhabited.
In their suit, the residents claimed that government undertook to pay 40% relocation allowance to each family, 10% escalation or interest to each of the affected families as well as 5% for the delayed repayment, which needed reassessment and an additional 5% contribution towards relocation as water connection related charges. The government further undertook to transport school children who were affected by the relocation until a school was found where such children could attend or a new school was constructed at their new area of relocation. In 2007 government requested the residents of Botshabelo ward to move to Disana to pave way for Maun Airport expansion and they had long complained about delayed compensation. It was reported that some residents were fully compensated while some were not paid at all after complaining that the money they were given as compensation was too little and could not help them construct a simple house.