Lt Gen Ian Khama did not just fall from the sky to thereafter impose himself on the political landscape of this country. He was aided and abetted by the powers that be, resulting in where we are currently. These powers paraded him as the best leader Botswana has had. Yet sooner rather than later that he was paraded as the Messiah to both Botswana and the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) problems did he give a hint that he would be a control freak who wouldn’t take a no for an answer. Yet again and notwithstanding these palpable control freak features was he still paraded as the Messiah to the country and the BDP. We are now being told by the same powers that be and others that he is after all, making it difficult for the President to govern. Who created Khama – one should ask?
Former President Rre Festus Mogae
Consequent to the Lawrence Schlemmer Report that recommended that someone outside the BDP who was not tainted by the party’s factional infighting should be brought in to stabilise the party, Rre Mogae appointed Khama his Vice President and as such, such an untainted person. The honest belief in Rre Mogae, one should assume, was that Khama would bring with him that untainted aspect that could add value to the stabilisation of the party and by extension, government. One should give him that benefit of doubt. But as soon as Khama was in government as Rre Mogae’s right hand man, he immediately showed without any second thought that he is control freak. He applied and was granted unprecedented sabbatical leave by Rre Mogae. He was also granted unlimited access to pilot military aircrafts against the advice and recommendation of the Ombudsman at the time, Rre Lethebe Maine. As if this was not enough, Rre Mogae threatened to dissolve parliament in 2004 if Khama was not confirmed by such Parliament as his Vice President. Because Rre Mogae was largely interested in his political party’s survival than the country’s, he wittingly in my view ignored what could become of Botswana once Khama took over from him. All tell-tale signs were as clear as the blue sky to indicate that we will be where we are today.
Botswana Democratic Party
As soon as Khama became President in 2008, Khama’s political party led the nation to believe that he was what the doctor ordered. The party was fully aware during his Vice Presidency period that Khama would be more likely to behave like ‘a problem child’ owing to the tell-tale signs referred to herein. This notwithstanding, the party allowed itself to sell Batswana a raw deal all the way until Khama stepped down on 31 March 2018. Under the BDP’s watch and under Khama’s direction, policies, laws and any other thing that was largely anti-Botswana and anti-Batswana was put in place amid so much glitz and fanfare. A whopping and reported P3 billion infamous Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) was launched in Machaneng whose results no one in the party or government is willing to talk about because there is nothing commensurate with P3 billion that can be put on display. Over 5000 decent jobs were lost at BCL and Tati Nickel mines under questionable circumstances; Parliament became an extension of cabinet with the former dismally failing on an on-going basis to hold the latter to account; corruption of Biblical proportions was the order of the day as the latest news shows; multi-billion Pula infrastructural projects like the Morupule B have become an embarrassment to this country for we are still seriously challenged energy-wise. Almost everything that could possibly go wrong under Khama and the BDP has in fact done so.
When it was perfectly demonstrable that Khama’s administration in almost all respects was taking this country nowhere, BDP Elders kept quiet. If they ever talked, it was in hushed tones which did not help neither their party nor the country. I would have expected the BDP Elders to have taken Khama head on much as they purport to be doing so now. Now that Botswana has slid into some developmental crisis of some sort given the grand corruption and billions of Pula that have somewhat disappeared, the Elders seem to have found their voices after the fact. That is, when grand corruption occurred neither the BDP as the ruling party and the Elders rose above partisan politics to save Botswana. In a way therefore, it is fair to conclude that the Elders are as complicit much as is the BDP in creating Khama. I am not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting that the Elders shouldn’t speak out on Khama but that it defeats logic why they didn’t do so then because the damage done may have been significantly reduced.
It is common cause that the President Rre Masisi was Khama’s right hand man both as a Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and his Vice President back in the day. Notably, it will be remembered how he (Masisi) handled the public service strike in 2011 and also as a notable proponent of Khama’s pet projects like back yard gardening, poverty eradication schemes and other policies and programmes. By virtue of positions the President held in Khama’s administration, it is fair and perhaps justifiable to conclude that he embraced such initiatives some of which if not all, he is now reversing. I have made my position in previous articles that the President and some of his colleagues in Khama’s administration cannot absolve themselves from the morass that was such administration on the basis that they merely served on an advisory role to Khama. In this regard therefore, it could be concluded that the President has in whole or in part created Khama.
While I don’t recall the President specifically stating that Khama is making it difficult for him to govern this country unhindered, the perception out there from those who are anti-Khama is that this is so. The President’s SONA speech in this regard may have suggested it. Now that the President seems to be uncomfortable with Khama as he would be with a nagging mosquito, why can’t he deal with him as the President of both the BDP and the country one may reasonably ask? This question emanates from the general sentiments expressed by some in society. Before answering it, it is imperative to find out if indeed Khama is a nagging mosquito around the President’s ear.
Khama is an ordinary politician like all others except that he and Rre Mogae carry a designation of a former President. It is accepted that Khama may again not be an ordinary politician because he commands influence in society. While he is a BDP member, he is opposed to the sitting President largely resulting from their political fallout. In any case, these policy issues we were made to believe, were, or are collective party and government policies. It has since emerged from the unfolding events that we were sold a dummy because these policies were after all solely Khama’s hence their reversals. Other BDP members and politicians are also opposed to the President for a variety of reasons hence some like Hon Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenging him to the BDP presidency. If in the process Khama would have violated the BDP Constitution and that of this Republic, lawful actions in respect of both Constitutions would have long been taken. Khama is no longer protected by presidential immunity and is therefore subject to the scrutiny of law as an ordinary citizen. If he is behind any plot to harm or even kill the President as recent media reports seem to suggest, the law is in place to decisively and effectively deal with him. It appears for now that Khama may not be violating both the party and the Republic’s Constitution hence no action can be taken against him. Or is that unintended consequences may result if action is taken? Your guess is as good as mine.