Khama or Country?

18 Mar 2019

By Richard Moleofe

The feud between the president and his predecessor is continuing and has been elevated yet to another level. The recent trip of the former president to India to meet up with the Dalai Lama has brought the matter of the feud to the fore in public discourse.

The trip to dialogue with the Dalai Lama is a separate issue. But the real issue arises from the interview that Khama offered to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Khama was damning our country at full throttle.

It seems Khama has now developed this insatiable appetite for speaking to private media. This is the same man who while he was Commander of Botswana Defence Force, he outlawed private newspapers from the grocery stores at all garrisons. He did not hide his hatred for private media and in particular journalists.

Khama has now used the pedestal of the private media to trumpet his main issue; which is his gripe against President Masisi. Khama is slowly inching his way up into the international community by using their media to discredit our country. And the next thing we will come to learn, he will be on the BBC to tell the whole world how bad this country has become.

The former president says Botswana is fast losing its democratic credentials because of the current administration. Khama has always focused his attention on the international community while president. Instead of attending an AU meeting in Addis Ababa, he would rather choose to be involved in a conservation conference in LA.

His perpetual absence from the continent of Africa while at the same time he was receiving awards in overseas was a well calculated move to gain popularity. At a time like this, he can go back to draw support from his international contacts.

It is not by coincidence that the issues that Khama is raising are saturated around conservation and governance. He has portrayed himself as a champion of democracy, a president who cared so much for the people. He has been acclaimed as a super conservationist. This is the image that the West has about him.

It is for this reason that government should go on overdrive with an international public relations exercise to mitigate the damage that Khama is propagating. He has portrayed Botswana as a country under siege from its own president. We are now seen as a deteriorating democracy.

I am personally convicted that Khama must be briefly detained and questioned for the utterances he made on his interview with SABC. The words he used are divisive and are creating an incendiary situation in the country. He is slowly creating an atmosphere for conflict.

The former president complains so bitterly about the way Batswana are no longer free under the new administration. In particular he raises the abuse by the Directorate of Intelligence Services on a lot of citizens.

I listened to him and realised that he was actually telling the world about how as a nation we felt under his rule. When he was president, we lived under perpetual fear of the intelligence operatives. This was happening at every level in society. People could not discuss issues freely in public transport and even those in high offices; they lived in great fear of DIS.

Since Khama and his henchman Isaac Kgosi left, the fear has dissipated and people can now feely enjoy their fundamental right of freedom of expression. For his information, Batswana no longer pull batteries out of their cellular phones to avoid being tapped while they discus and debate issues.

While Khama is raising dust with the international community, President Masisi should raise it here with the very citizens of this country. Botswana is surely under attack from foreign elements and they are aided and abetted by Khama and his friends. And I have to mention again that business interests are at the centre of this current conflict.

In the process of dealing with Khama and his friends, Masisi should not act in an amateurish manner. Vengeance must not be found in the DNA of his problem solving. He must put Botswana first and not Khama first.

Khama behaves like a bitter ex-wife. And for that we should not take his machinations lightly and from a security perspective, he is the one who should be put under intelligence radar. He has told the world that Ms Venson-Moitoi is being monitored and harassed by intelligence operatives. The next thing we are going to hear him say Bangwato are facing genocide.

If Ian Khama has no legacy to protect as we know and understand, he must at least honour his father who has left a legacy of democracy in this country. Listening to Seretse Khama’s speech at the throning of Ian Khama as the Bangwato Paramount Chief, the old man condemned unilateralism and totalitarianism at all levels. This has become something that his son seems to enjoy doing.

Botswana is under attack from very powerful foreign forces. And the driving force is our very own past president. I have never seen this happen anywhere in the world. What is happening in Angola between the president and his predecessor is completely dwarfed by the Masisi-Khama feud.

In Angola, the current president has called the daughter of the former president to account for her unmatched wealth. Isabel Dos Santos stands out to be the richest woman in Africa but this may not last as she is being questioned for the source of her wealth.

In Botswana, the fight is not for the soul of the party, it is for the soul of this country. This is why Khama say he would seek outside intervention to rectify the rollback on the achievements he had made while he was president.

This calls us to defend our country against these forces of darkness. We really need to set aside partisan politics and focus on country first. We equally cannot allow foreigners to enjoy the fruits our land. The very land they abandoned in 1966 calling it barren and useless.