Khama’s desperate cry for help

05 Aug 2018

This past week, former president Ian Khama has been busy speaking on both sides of his mouth.

It is a carefully calculated ploy to get it both ways. He is playing victim.

For example he calls himself a private citizen. Yet he sees nothing wrong crying for access to state aircraft and helicopters.

This is a man who has access to millions of pula in state resources.

This private citizen enjoys 24-hour security protection from Government, and he drives around in a chauffeur driven  and state maintained car that is more expensive than that of a sitting Head of State.

He has been making coy suggestions that he is open to not only ditching the BDP, but worse expending efforts to get it out of power.

Coming from Khama these erratic outbursts and tantrums are very unusual.

It is an open secret that he has recently been consorting with some opposition people he was disdainful of when in power.

Khama says his friend Isaac Kgosi who was recently sacked was treated unfairly being shown the door without notice after serving the country for forty years or so.

This is yet another double talk and sense of entitlement that have been signature marks of Khama’s presidency and life as a whole.

The “private citizen” Khama does not see anything wrong hiring Kgosi in Government as his private secretary only a few months after the same Government sacked Kgosi as its head of intelligence services.

Again, this is exactly the kind of impunity and unaccountability that Khama had allowed to permeate his Government.

The late Moshe Lekaukau once called me to his house and told me how the same Kgosi that Khama is weeping for had escorted him out of his office with guns.

Lekaukau was hurt and felt humiliated. He felt he deserved better.

While crying for Kgosi, Khama chooses to forget this treatment of one of our country’s luminaries.

The only difference is that Lekaukau had served the nation longer and with much greater honour and integrity than Isaac Kgosi.

To Khama this does not matter because he is blinded by privilege and a sickening sense of entitlement – for himself and for his bosom buddy.

In Khama’s universe, only him and Kgosi matter.

Khama needs help. And because he says he is a private citizen, his family should see to it that he gets such help.

Based on the interviews he has been giving Khama, at best  Khama still wants to treat President Mokgweetsi Masisi as his assistant and at worst a vassal president.

As a friend of mine said to me recently – “in this zero sum game his [Khama] selfishness is in full display. To think that he used to accuse people of lacking patriotism, this is [appalling].”

He went on to accuse Khama of exaggerating his importance and abusing the affection that some people have for him, ending by pointing out that “even his Central District is not a homogenous unit.”

When all is said and, Khama’s attitude highlight the flaws of our system where a sitting president and not the nation determines who his successor shall be.

In his jihad against the state and party he led until only a few months ago, it is the media that has fallen prey to Khama and also proved easy pickings.

The media has not been skeptical enough in their dealing with him.

His forked tongue and double standards have not been questioned and scrutinized sufficiently.

When he hints at the possibility of his party losing power, and him turning against a party and Government he was leader of until only four months ago, Khama’s statements are clearly laded with coded sub-texts for his adherents to rise up against the same party, state and government.

Given Khama’s clear agenda to spread anarchy, despondency and social unrest there is need for self-restraint on the part of the media on how it engages with him.

There are precedents for this.

At the height of their fight against Osama bin-Laden, news outlets in the west, especially America and United Kingdom had to censor themselves on how to cover the terrorist leader and his Al Qaida sub-cultural movement.

Leading American news channels like CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX agreed to stop airing excerpts from Bin Laden’s video tapes.

This was after they received a conference call from the then National Security Advisor Condi Rice who told them that there was evidence suggesting that the tapes by the Al Qaida leader contained in them coded messages to the cells around the world.

Rupert Murdoch, the world’s foremost media mogul agreed that if his empire was being used to spread coded messages with violent consequences, the television operations had no choice but to censor themselves.

In the United Kingdom, Alastair Campbell, the then communications director to Prime Minister Tony Blair also convinced BBC that airing Bin-laden’s tapes was dangerous for the country.

The fiercely independent BBC acquiesced.

Given the risks that Khama poses to the country, and until his family reins him in, it might be in order for the media to find creative ways to handle him, or better still refrain from him while still fulfilling their obligations to the public.

Afterall this is the man who during his entire public service career has never hidden his disdain for the media, going as far as to expel the media at his events and also presiding over an advertising ban campaign that literally brought the same media houses on their knees.

As the media our first obligation is to the public, but some decorum of self respect is certainly in order.

The media responsibilities can clearly be achieved without allowing ourselves to become pawns in Khama’s rampant jihad against the state.

We can hold back until we are sure that the man has received the kind of help he so clearly and desperately needs.