The opposition Botswana Congress Party has accused President Ian Khama of irresponsible populism.
Delivering a scorecard on Khama’s performance since he became State President 120 days ago, the leader of the BCP, Gilson Saleshando, said it is wrong to call the numerous announcements made by Khama thus far as “initiatives” because they have not been thought through.
If anything, said Saleshando, Khama’s announcement will fast-track the death of democracy in Botswana and usher in a dictatorship.
“We cannot pull things from the air and call them initiatives,” said Saleshando.
In his typical dry humour, Saleshando told the media that since taking over, Khama has been on a crusade of turning parliament into “Botswana’s biggest rubberstamp.”
The BCP leader said Khama was treating the whole nation like toys. This treatment, he said, extended to senior BDP members.
The best example is the recent treatment meted to Member of Parliament, Botsalo Ntuane, who was forced to apologise for daring to say the BDP government was going astray.
“Khama is making it difficult for his party people to campaign. How can Ntuane campaign when he has become a political skeleton like any other BDP Member of Parliament,” said Saleshando.
He said he cried for Botswana’s democracy not least because all the checks and balances have since been killed under Ian Khama.
Referring to the recently published Media Bill which is before parliament, Saleshando said there is no better example of the dictatorship that Batswana have to brace for under Ian Khama.
The same applied to the 70% levy unilaterally billed against alcohol by the president.
“Ian Khama wants to control everything under the sun including pens. He wants to practice journalism by remote control. I like to talk about temporary setbacks. I am sorry to say this is a serious setback. It’s a major setback for our democracy,” said Saleshando.
He said he suspected Khama’s behaviour towards other people is a result of the fact that the man has always been treated differently from other people.
This, said Saleshando, makes Khama to look down upon other people and to think of himself as a special person.
The BCP said when other tribal chiefs have been always required to relinquish their roles as prerequisite before joining politics, the same rule has not been applied to Khama.
“I think the problem is we have a chief who is also a president. He sees himself as above the law. He personalises everything. I will not be surprised if he thinks we are being rude to him.”
Saleshando said under Ian Khama all government structures and institutions have ceased to matter.
“In fact they have all of a sudden become nuisances that are looked at as impeding the president’s crusade,” he said. “We have a President who wakes up everyday to make a new announcement without having thought through the implications. He receives no advice on budgetary implications. The situation is so bad that all of a sudden both cabinet and parliament are no longer involved.”
The BCP strongly feels that since becoming President, Ian Khama has done everything to kill well-known government procedures and protocols, so much so that even senior ministers do not really understand what this government is up to.
The unilateral decisions by the President, without consulting cabinet, have the implication of confusing cabinet ministers.
“Where is the rule of law. Should we believe Khama when he calls himself a true democrat and then goes on to kill all the known tenets of democracy.”
“Former President Festus Mogae used to talk about prudent financial management. I don’t think the new President knows what all that means.”
On another note, the BCP condemned automatic succession, saying it undermines the will of the people, which is the underlying principle of democracy.
“Who gave Khama the mandate? Where does he get the legitimacy? What we know is that, as of now, Botswana has no cabinet. All we have is a rubberstamp which is a crew of educated men and women,” said Saleshando.