How Masisi stopped Kgathi from going after Khama

20 Nov 2018

President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed this week how he intervened and rein in Minister Shaw Kgathi from hitting back at former President Lt Gen Ian Khama for attacking him.

Kgathi who is Bobirwa Member of Parliament recently lost Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections for the constituency following the attack by Khama.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi cited the incident as an example of how Khama’s political activities had affected the transition from the previous administration.

Ahead of ruling party primary elections, Khama travelled to Kgathi’s constituency and in the company of Kgathi’s challenger publicly berated the minister at what was passed as a meeting to launch a charity foundation.

This was seen as an endorsement of Kgathi’s opponent by former president Khama.

According to Masisi after attacks by Khama, minister Kgathi was raring to go on an offensive and mount a revenge attack on Khama.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard, President Masisi said the Bobirwa incident was one of the glaring difficulties presented by a former president who wants to remain politically active.

Masisi said Kgathi was a victim of wrongful outright political attacks by Khama.

He said when Khama made a public call for the constituents to politically deal with Kgathi for perceived insubordination, that was wrong especially when given that such calls are made public by a person of immense stature such as Khama who is a chief and also a former President.

Kgathi simply stood no chance, said president Masisi.

Masisi said Kgathi has since denied many of the things that Khama had said about him at that fateful public meeting.

“I had to sit him [Kgathi] down, calm him down and prevent him from going on a very ugly offensive. That causes for a transition that is not entirely smooth. It’s tested,” said Masisi.

The ruling party Central Committee has since ruled a rerun for the Bobirwa constituency primary elections after Kgathi protested.

Another issue that contributed to Masisi going public about the difficult transition was a public pronouncement by Khama that he still considered himself president of the BDP.

Masisi said this statement has left him disappointed. “When I know what I know and what other Central Committee members know of what transpired at the last Central Committee meeting chaired by former President Khama, which I will not tell you, and then this issue of who is party president now arises and he comments on it the way he did; in the political space of the party that [naturally] causes for unease in the transition.   Just the fact of questioning and putting in the minds of democrats a lack of clarity on who the leader is causes for a lack of smoothness in the transition,” said Masisi.

The president said it is a compendium of these and other activities, chief of which has been the meddling in the primaries and creating a false impression by former president that he is being harassed by the current administration, that have been both hurtful and unfortunate.

“I have tried, I am trying and I will continue to try to dialogue on these issues guided by the commitment to respect the laws we have. I am a human being I might err.”

Masisi said when faced by these challenges he consulted reputable elders in our society. “These are people who have held office, both in parliament and government. They included former president Dr Festus Mogae, former Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe, former Speaker of Parliament Ray Molomo, another former Speaker Patrick Balopi and a former Minister David Magang.

“They are all former Members of Parliament. And there is nothing they don’t know about government and the transition. And they were all involved in the transitions that we have had [as a nation]. And I submitted myself to a total review by them. I said ‘look, I open myself up to you. This is not about me the president, it is about Botswana. If I have messed up, tell me. If there is any document you want, ask me. If there is any public official you want to interrogate do so. Botswana is much more important than any of us. Please help.’”