Monday, May 20, 2024

Calls on President Khama to account are too little too late!

For backbenchers of the governing Botswana Democratic Party the year ends pretty much the same like it started ÔÇô divided, fearful, helpless, pessimistic, voiceless and not in control. By any measure, this has not been a great year for ordinary Members of Parliament from the BDP. Attempts by some of them to assert their voices and restore the independence of parliament have been met with threats of dismissal from the emperor. They have watched with helpless desolation as corruption by the emperor’s inner circle derailed their good intentions to justify to the people why there is a need for sacrifice because the economy is not at its best. Their crescendo of calls for President Ian Khama to account are nothing short of ill-conceived whistles in the dark , rooted more in self-preservation than genuine concerns for ethics-based governance. Not a single factor better explains such calls than a recognition by the backbench themselves that if they do not create space between themselves and the emperor  ÔÇô however small and superficial such a space, there is a real threat that the emperor will with him take down the entire edifice that is their party down a cliff. Such calls have come too little too late. The timing might be wrong, but to be fair to the backbenchers, their analysis of the situation is spot on. The decline of their party can very easily be traced to President Ian Khama. But then so is the case with almost every public institution. If such decline is not stemmed, the BDP might end out of power. And power is all that the BDP has ever known. Power is all that through the years kept the BDP together. And there is no guarantee that out of power, the BDP might survive. UNIP, formed by Kenneth Kaunda who went on to lead Zambia for close to thirty years disintegrated when faced with a file out of power. That same scenario has also played out in Ghana where Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s party today exists only in name. Perhaps a more succinct example that should fill BDP MPs with dread is the Nationalist Party in South Africa which once in opposition had to preside over self liquidation because it could not face and live up to the rigours that come with being opposition. You know a party is worried that its world might just be staggering to an end when its backbenchers bolt out of the caucus to proclaim to the world the world that their leader is not accountable. The BDP backbenchers should take a heavier responsibility for their party’s looming misfortune. They are behaving like it, but it’s not like BDP backbenchers have all of a sudden made some fascinating discovery. Just who are they telling that their leader is averse to public accountability? We have also always known this to be case. In fact many of us have always said this publicly. And like programmed animated toys, the same backbenchers have always come to the spirited defence of the leader. They are under stranglehold of what the English call buyer’s remorse. As a shorthand to international readers, many of who look up to this publication for a peek into what is unfolding in this country, President Ian Khama has been to Botswana what Vladimir Putin has been to Russia. It is a text book case of just how not to run a country with democratic pretensions. Or better still, having attained power, how not to use it. President Khama has emasculated all state institutions and centralized as to personalize all the running of the state. Almost ten years in office, he has kind of achieved his ultimate goal ÔÇô which has been to create the country in his image with all the institutions subservient to him and in a very literal sense, manned by his acolytes all of who owe allegiance to him. This, as is the case in Putin’s Russia applies to the judiciary. Iran’s Ayatollah would most likely wince in envy. From the beginning of his career President Khama has never shown any soft spot to accountability. Early on in his political career when he held a substantive ministerial portfolio he took serious umbrage at being asked questions by Members of parliament on his portfolio. He quickly convinced the then President, Festus Mogae who he dominated and as is now becoming increasingly clear terrorized and possibly abused to appoint a coordinator of Government projects. To this day neither parliament nor the nation has ever received an update, much less a report of the outcome of the ten years that Khama spent as a coordinator of projects. If history is going to provide any lessons, the emperor will not listen, much less oblige with calls on him to account. If anything he might emerge in the New Year brandishing a sword and with it threatening to cut the throat of anyone who dares to say he should be accountable. This is the last edition of the Sunday Standard this year. We wish everybody a happy Christmas and a merry New Year. Enjoy. And do not indulge.

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