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17 Dec 2018

After all of the hoops the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government jumped through to accommodate former President Dr Khama’s executive afterlife that promised to be expensive and unique, reconfiguring existing laws to placate his endemic greed with generous, extravagant and Hollywood themed benefits, it is surprising that Dr Khama has returned the favour with some dubious and appalling behaviour. For all his fire and fury about being harassed by the new administration, from the opinion of the detached public and of course our understanding of the on-going feud between Dr Khama and President Masisi after wide coverage by the media, it is now a matter of fact that former President Dr Khama is the one who is actually harassing incumbent President Dr Masisi.

In all seriousness and for all those of us who care about Botswana’s erstwhile regional leadership on democracy, good governance and a bright future for Africa, Dr Khama’s violent behaviour since retirement has been a national embarrassment. It is a national embarrassment because prior to former President Dr Khama’s awful behaviour, Botswana has been heralded as a model for Africa with specific reference to presidential successions and the behaviour and roles of former presidents. In no small measure, former President Dr Khama’s behaviour has dishonoured that reputation, giving naysayers the ammunition to poke fun at Botswana’s celebrated superficial model of presidential transitions.

Former President Dr Khama’s erratic behaviour and his grumpy attitude that seems to be anchored on inherited status and an entitlement mentality to govern Botswana because Botswana has always been and should always be governed by members of the Khama family is scandalous and laughable. It is not that Botswana has never been a disappointment to the African continent and the world at large and it is not that Botswana has never been an embarrassment of some sort. However, what the country is going through because of a former President who seems to have greed in his DNA is a historic moment though unpleasant and undesirable.

Former President Dr Khama’s behaviour which is in actual fact a mixture of ruthless self-interest and poisonous rhetoric spiced with palpable appetite for confrontational politics, is not just an embarrassment to Botswana and Africa but also to mankind. It is an embarrassment to humankind because his actions and behaviours bring all of us to the level of the animal kingdom. That Botswana has been a model for the developing world and the rest of the dark continent of Africa; that a celebrated nation can, for over ten years, have at the helm such a manifestly unfit person and that the developed world has never stopped lavishing praise for what was thought to be flamboyant democracy that is Botswana, what is currently obtaining in Botswana is a shame on humanity.

We have got to be honest and admit that we will never find enough lipstick to beautify this ugly patch in world history. The awkward presidential transition that is alien to Botswana actually places our state of mind into question not just because the country had someone with outstanding mediocrity and wilful ignorance as a state president - the face of the nation - but because so many Batswana embraced his bigotry and still do by showing blind loyalty to him even as he continues to comprehensively humiliate mankind. Essentially, Batswana have propelled a mediocre and a grossly ignorant person to rise to the presidency by virtue of his family name and military background.

In so doing, Botswana actually consolidated the African culture that any kid, regardless of their mental state, who has or had a political leader for a father, can become a leader at any level in society. As a result, Botswana’s claim to good governance and moral standing rang hollow hence Botswana of today is more of a cartoon than a model of presidential transitions. We are indeed an embarrassment and we cannot recognize ourselves or be recognized anymore as a torchbearer of democracy and prosperity.   

Indeed Dr Khama’s behaviour and of course the behaviour of his praise singers is a national embarrassment because his irrationality, mediocrity and ignorance strike at the very heart of our national pride and patriotism. We no longer can pride ourselves as an oasis of peace and hope for mankind in Africa. In other words, as a nation we are not really embarrassed for Dr Khama but we are embarrassed for our country that has over centuries laid claim to moral high ground for good governance.

Everything that used to give Botswana an edge over her peers has disappeared not so much because a despot messed up in the last 10 years that he committed state resources to the advancement of his family perverse agenda or for the pursuit of various personal obsessions but so much because of the blind loyalty of his praise singers many of who loudly pronounced then that Dr Khama’s presidency was ordained by the Almighty in ways that suggested he should not have retired.

We Batswana know too well about former President Dr Khama’s relentless efforts to reverse progress of every kind and on every front and his tireless devotion to marginalize those who differed with him yet all we did was to suggest that he be given a third term. How pathetic! Former President Dr Khama has left Botswana more isolated, more hated, less secure and more polarised and he has continued to add more misery in his role as ex-president.

Surprisingly but not shocking, he still enjoys the support of irrational citizens many of whom he had impoverished and there is a big story to this irony. Beyond the support that Dr Khama’s enjoys from low life citizens, the real story is that we are a pathetic nation and there is nothing more pathetic in life than a people who relish the company of a quarrelsome, petulant and perverse guest to the extent that we find it hard to let him go.

In view that Dr Khama’s behaviour is an embarrassment for the country and that as a model of presidential transitions such behaviour by a former president is not only scandalous but an embarrassment to humankind, Botswana must duly apologise to the international community for our decision to elevate a narcissist to the presidency.

Botswana must swallow her pride and apologize for the behaviour of its former president and further re-assure the world that our abysmal record occasioned by former President Dr Khama who abhorred reading and squealed with delight at his mediocrity and ignorance was a once off goof that will never be repeated.

Botswana must duly apologise for the behaviour of a dangerous, paranoid and crazed former president who seems to be overly determined to dampen the spirits of those with a firm belief in the notions of good governance and further assure the world that while he once been our state president and is our former president, his behaviour does not in any way mirrors our understanding of democracy.

Botswana never deserved Dr Khama as state president and do not deserve him as former president. However, as a nation we cannot avoid being clumped together with our ex-president. We are thus inherently part of Dr Khama’s behaviour then and now. We are party to the defilement of our democratic norms. This is our fault and for this we need to apologise to the world that looked to us as an embodiment of a functioning democracy, peace and good life.

We have embarrassed ourselves. We have embarrassed and disappointed those who looked to us for inspiration and guidance. However, all is not lost for we remain a nation of contrite citizens who have learnt a painful lesson that entrusting a dangerous despot with the highest position in government merely on account of his family name is self-defeatist. Yet, the painful reality is that former President Dr Khama just can’t seem to stop himself from inflicting further damage which then means that he must be stopped. Thus, stopping him on his tracks shall become Botswana’s next special operation and it is not personal.

This is not hatred against Dr Khama or the Khama name but if Batswana have got to learn to hate in order to denounce bigotry so be it. It is not about personal hatred or dislike of Dr Khama but rather it is about his activities, politics and behaviours as a former president. It is about his resolve to use tribal politics to entrench and expand his own power and advance his family’s agenda.

Merry festive season and happy holidays folks. Always remember that Botswana deserves better. You deserve better!

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