Tshekedi steps out of Ian’s shadow

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 25 September 2019   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Tshekedi Khama Tshekedi Khama

Those still carrying hopes of a future Khama presidency have pinned their hopes on Tshekedi, the heir apparent to BaNgwato chieftaincy. As things stand they do not see that happening with any other party than the one founded by his father – the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). This appears to be informing his decision to stay put and fight from inside than decamp to some still-born party or an opposition conglomerate that will never advance his political interests. Observers insist that he cannot be among those that destroy an institution that could ultimately give him the biggest political prize of his life. On the short-term, he stands to protect himself (and his brothers) from possible prosecution over alleged corrupt practices by delivering the huge Central District vote to the desperate BDP. Writes STAFF WRITER Tshekedi Khama has landed his survival boat. He has read and seen all the signs. He has delved into his ancestors deepest aspirations – and chosen a route he considers best. He has chosen to remain loyal to them; and bitterly refused to disrespect them. That is despite a run-away brother who is calling for his defiance. His father Seretse Khama preached national unity and lived by it. He abhorred the mix between politics and bogosi; having picked early the dangerous tribalism cocktail that this would lead to. His worst fears have come to bear on his own people, courtesy of his eldest son – former President Ian Khama who has dumped his father’s party to form his own basing predominantly on using his own subjects as a bargaining chip to advance his own interests. Tshekedi has stood his ground – at least up to this point – and is not bolting out of his father’s party. There is more to read from this stand. It could be that he remains convinced that he will best serve under BDP and be able to advance his political ambitions. He has never concealed his ambitions to be something more than a minister or even Vice President of this country. Having done enough due diligence, it could be assumed, he has realised that his best bet would be to keep his BDP colours – any other party would simply not help him. As the heir apparent to BaNgwato throne – as declared by his own brother – his electability is not in question. However joining his brother’s new party will not offer him anything extra – his political fortunes will perish. Staying put with the BDP, particularly seemingly in defiance against his brother who the party is fighting with, will lift his stock value. Moving from shadows Remaining with the BDP and fighting out to salvage the district for the party gives him the biggest chance by far to look forward to a big seat in the echelons of the party. In fact, in his own terms and not through the bargaining of his brother he could ultimately take the mettle at the very top – provided he helps save the party. Many BDP diehards who were beginning to adjust to a life without the Khamas would easily reward Tshekedi; possibly voting him to the powerful position of the chairman of the party were he to run for it. For a long time, many have attributed his rise in political fortunes to the influence of his brother – than Ian Khama opened doors for him and even appointed him a minister when there were other more deserving individuals. He is learning that entitlement would not serve him any further. And in particular that the man he had relied on for his rise would not offer him much going forward. The future is on his hands and no bigger opportunity would arise like this one where he had to demonstrate loyalty to the institution than to an individual. Individuals come and go – he would have realised – and the strength of one lies more on integrity and loyalty to institution. He is trying out how the ‘Tshekedi magic’ would go like – but there is no time; the BDP urgently needs him to stand up and be counted for it. Brightening his prospects in it; means he has to do more than saying he remains within it while his brother is busy killing its prospects. He has to speak very loud about it and against detractors. It is this that will give him further political mileage. UDC owes him nothing The UDC will most likely offer Tshekedi very little. Any expediency as proposed by his brother Ian to entangle themselves with UDC politics would not necessary offer the family much. As a conglomerate made of parties with varying interests, if they assume power their priority will not be in advancing Khama family’s interests. The family’s significance will pale into a small statistic over the many pressing national and self-interest issues by the new ruling class(es). In fact, that will be the time when the new leaders and their cronies will remind those that have been in power that likewise it was their turn to ‘eat’. Those that have presided over the BDP’s reign and generated massive wealth for themselves are most likely to face the outmost wrath of new Government as it moves to entrench itself while showcasing themselves as staunch fighters against previous real and imagined corruption. The Khama family has constantly faced accusations of self-enrichment, particularly in the supply of equipment and ammunition to the army. With the loyalty he enjoys in his area, it is almost a given that Tshekedi will win his seat whether with BDP or BPF. But being in the opposition ranks he would lose the preferential treatment and protection he has enjoyed all the years. It is the devil he knows that he can continue to manoeuvre his way around with. While his brother is fully pushing for collaboration with the opposition with the hope that post elections and once in power they will protect his family’s interests and afford him the luxuries – more flying hours on presidential jet – that the current administration denies him; Tshekedi cannot assume he will be given all his desires by the opposition. His brother might get some; but there is no direct deal between him and the UDC – at least for now unless that is somehow running underground. BPF won’t survive post elections The BPF would cause harm to BDP elections prospects but not give its members enough bargaining chip. Its sole purpose was to dislodge the BDP and in particular Mokgweetsi Masisi from power. Its policies and ideology are not well defined. Everything about the party appears to rotate around the popularity of its founder – former President Ian Khama – who has chosen for himself a strategic position of patron. This allows him to determine the narrative and direction of the party takes including who it associates and cuts deals with. He is the all and mighty of the party with most of its followers being his subjects – members of the Ngwato tribe that controls the whole of the central district. He is their paramount chief though he has never assumed the full reigns of conducting their affairs at the tribal headquarters in Serowe. Tshekedi’s future With Ian Khama refusing to acknowledge that he has reached his sell-by date politically, Tshekedi will have to cautiously balance his own career-rewarding interest with those of a control freak brother who always want to get his way. Ian Khama considers himself to be acting in good faith and protecting and advancing family interests. To him ‘TK’ will continue to follow his steps and orders. In listening to him however Tshekedi will have to look around for the successes and failures of his elder brother’s political strategies. It was not necessarily out of Ian Khama that he ultimately became the president. This was literally handed to him by a party that believed he had all necessary to unify it for a longer reign as the opposition encroached from every angle. He left the party barely holding on to power, ruling by default, favoured by the First Past the Post Electoral system with the lowest ever popular vote at 47 per cent. Most of the people that he had tried to campaign for have tended to lose elections. If Tshekedi has higher ambitions politically he will have to assemble a strong team of advisers that will properly project the path he should take and not rely on family, in particular his senior brother. Ian has run his race and completed it. Tshekedi will be smart enough to be his own man and pick a course that will ensure that history will not judge him harshly. He can listen to his brother and go with him to the BPF if it suits him. Or alternatively he can hang on to his father’s party and fight his own battles within it. Whichever way, this will determine the kind of man he is – a timid quitter, or a focussed man who confronts and fights his own battles!

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