As the official Botswana’s leadership transition process got underway, outgoing President Ian Khama needed many nice superlatives and poetic pronouncements on intellectual prowess to usher in his chosen successor – vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi. In almost a case of the past giving in to the future, Khama appropriately chose Moshupa – where his successor comes from – to kick-start his farewell tour. And so on Thursday morning Moshupa Kgotla was packed to full capacity as residents jostled to be part of history – never before has power exchanged hands before their eyes in their own village. In the next three months the village will join others that have given this country a Head of State, when Masisi takes over on April 1, 2018. “I think if he is more intelligent than me; then it is a little bit. If I am more intelligent than him, it is also just a little bit,” he declared of Masisi to the packed Kgotla. He further praised him for his unwavering loyalty – that he never doubted it through the years. Various speakers hailed Khama as a true democrat who upheld the Constitution of Botswana by retiring after his term without seeking an extension. Amid all the praises and presents including 34 cattle, one old man lived to the adage that ‘what a young man sees standing up, a wise old man sees it while sitting down’ as he offered counsel to both Khama and Masisi. A representative from Moshupa village, one Watson Ketshabile warned his homeboy to always seek advice from President Khama after he has assumed the presidency. “Don’t make a mistake of saying it is my turn to govern and yours has passed, that will be wrong,” warned Ketshabile.
Former Presidents the Late Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae have in the past complained that Khama was snubbing them when they tried to offer advice. The case in particular is the 2011 industrial action in which the former Heads of State tried to intervene between government and the public service workers. To President Khama, Ketshabile called on him to guide Masisi as he assumes office and not to distance himself. “Don’t say I have done my part and I am no longer the president and don’t involve me,” said the old man. He, however, warned President Khama to avoid being labelled as ruling from the grave. It was as if the old man has been reading about the relationship between Khama and his successor Mogae. Mogae has openly criticised his successor’s policies both in international forums and on local media and was on record saying “Botswana has regressed and the current administrations does not respect the rule of law”. Some accused Mogae of trying to rule from the grave and wondered why he didn’t approach Khama to register his concerns.
When addressing Moshupa residents, Khama said he does not regret his choice of Masisi as his Vice President and ultimately successor. “He is extremely intelligent and will make a very good president. I have no doubt that Batswana are going to enjoy his presidency,” said Khama, adding that if he was asked to choose another Vice president he will still go for Masisi. He called on Masisi to adopt some of the initiatives that he has done while still a president as he has (Khama) a lot on his plate. In an interview Moshupa deputy chief Oscar Mosielele said that as Bakgatla they are happy to produce the country’s fifth president. “It was really emotional to see the smooth transition of power and the respect for the Constitution of the country by the outgoing president. I am happy it happened in our village,” said the elated chief. Mosielele said they are positive that Masisi will make them proud as they have never doubted his leadership capabilities.