How Khama continues to thrive on mythologies

15 Jul 2019

Ian Khama’s differences with president Mokgweetsi Masisi may be deep, but they remain wholly personal.

Other than to remove Masisi, and may be the BDP from power, the political aims of Ian Khama remain unclear.

The contours have already come to the fore; his strategy is to seek to attract the currently disillusioned Botswana Democratic Party members, especially those that lost primaries.

He is using them as fodder to fight personal wars.

Other than that it is too soon after his departure for Khama to have forgotten all the malaise that characterized his presidency.

He is either being conveniently forgetful or he just has a tragic sense of false and clouded reality about his legacy.

Either way, it is an illusion on his part that stands to be mercilessly shattered at the polls.

The BPF, of which Khama is the Supreme Leader is led by Biggie Butale.

Butale could not even win parliamentary primaries inside the BDP. Now he wants to be elected the President of Botswana Patriotic Front. And with that he wants the same BPF to be given a mandate to run the country.

Something does not add up.

Yes he is angry that he has been thwarted in his aims to rule from the grave, but it is himself that he should be most disappointed.

He failed to establish a succession plan, and when that didn’t work out he tried a plan B that too has failed him.

When it started, Khama accused Masisi of denying him helicopters and other forms of air travel.

When that failed to gain traction, he switched strategy and started saying Masisi was a threat to Botswana’s democracy.

He is aware that this will be a difficult sell.

He is banking on people symphathising with him because he says he is being persecuted.

At a personal level, Khama lacks emotional courage to say whether or not he has definitively severed his links with the BDP.

In all his public speeches he has left room for a comeback.

As always, it is all about himself. Everybody else is expendable.

He lacks credibility to mount an attack on Masisi based on his own track record on liberties and freedoms.

During his time, Khama was infinitely authoritarian – including towards some of the people who are today his chief supporters – the private media and the opposition.

He loved and worshipped the intelligence services.

He was scornful and deeply contemptuous of opposition.

His criticism of the same opposition, especially at the BDP annual conferences was withering and penetrating. He effectively delegitimized them.

More than once, he told BDP delegates that the opposition was not worth running this country.

He humiliated the media, and wanted it obliterated from the face of the earth.

Today his biggest adherents and sympathisers are to be found among both the media and the opposition.

For him, nobody was untouchable, not even his BDP which he weakened, and almost obliterated.

An army of young and promising BDP cadres were hounded out of the party and many of them were made to face trumped up charges.

He went at lengths to concentrate power in the hands of a small cabal of his inner circle.

To this day the BDP is yet to recover from his decade of show trials.

He gave the intelligence services a blank check against perceived enemies.

Under him the intelligence services were empowered  to do as they pleased.

His economic management track record was a shameful disaster – better forgotten than nostalgic about.

His foreign policy was premised on gunboat diplomacy.

In the end he alienated allies, and failed to cultivate new alliances.

He was more at ease among his white friends that ran Botswana’s tourism.

Other than that he preferred the company of his football team – Super eleven!

For the country as was the case with the BDP, he brooked no dissent and mercilessly  clamped down on it.

And now he is back, saying the country has gone astray. He wants to put it back on track.

God have mercy!

In the last election, Khama said he aimed to grab 70% share of the electorate for his then BDP.

He ended up with less than 50%.

Now he is working at convincing the non-aligned that he is better than Masisi.

That, no doubt would be an uphill struggle.

He’s clearly counting on his BPF to defy the force of gravity.

It will be a travesty.

Voting Khama or his protégés is worse than a roll of the dice. He should just tell us to buckle up because turbulence of the headwinds is coming our way.

As night follows the day, the outcome of a Khama comeback is wholly known.

He is effectively telling people to vote with their hearts and give him a leap of blind faith.

At least in the very immediate, Khama hopes to attract defections among the rural traditionalists from the BDP.

In the long term it will not be as easy as his untruths will become more apparent to all and sundry.

There is a great measure of theatrics in Khama’s running assertion that the Masisi government is a one-man show.  It makes him sounds like a desperate clown he really is.

The more he repeats it, the more craven it gets.

Khama, no doubt is on a mission to self-harm.

He is engaging in a political suicide.

His scotched earth policy is also a reckless bluff that can only beget him tears.

Unless he wants to be heartbroken, the former president better start preparing for the clouds of a storm gathering at the horizons.

He still has a chance to dodge the bullet by claiming his seat among retired former leaders.