Monday, July 15, 2024

DK should be careful; Khama does not have political allies, only political interests!

A renowned British politician, Lord Palmerston, is believed to have famously remarked that Britain did not have permanent allies, only interests.

The man could easily have been referring to Ian Khama.

I am still to know any politician of stature who can seriously lay claim to being an ally of the president.

Only political clowns can say so, as when Oliphant Mfa suggested that Khama should consider becoming a life President, only for the clown to be shunted out of cabinet before losing a parliamentary seat on his way to oblivion, where he currently resides.

Scores of specially nominated councilors, so made following last General Elections, speak with bitterness how they now feel used, isolated and deserted.

What they fail to grasp is that they were only appointed to help neutralize Khama’s perceived enemies from the Barata-Phathi side of the party.

Now that they have served that purpose, they no longer are of any use.

In fact, the whole lot will be unceremoniously pushed into the cold and make way for the new batch.
Thato Kwerepe, that silent, little man who was made Secretary General of the BDP – a position he is still to fully internalise even as he is about to leave it – is another case in point.

After Motswaledi was sacked, Kwerepe was a textbook choice for the position of Secretary General because his character and demeanour marked him out as someone who would never ask the President a single difficult question.

Kwerepe had been made a specially nominated councilor, a position, we might as well add, he badly needed after he could not make it to parliament.

Having served his purpose, the man is now ripe for disposal.

I would be shocked if Kwerepe is still BDP Secretary after July.

The strategy is always the same: Khama makes a gullible, often obscure politician to feel important, that they and not anybody else are closest to him and that the president counts on them not only for counsel but to also fight perceived enemies and also to bring stability and sanity into the party.

Before these decoys know it, Khama has moved on. He no longer calls them or on them let alone take their calls.

By which time the dynamics have considerably shifted; the decoys have become irrelevant and have lost admiration among many of their traditional support base.

Attention is now showered on new targets, who ironically also fall victim to exactly the same trick.
What BDP’s so called insiders never get to understand is that President Khama’s acceptance of anyone of them is brazenly conditional and, for many intents and purposes, permanently short-lived.
If any one of them is for whatever reason able to bask in the much coveted presidential warmth and approbation, it is only because many others have been ruthlessly shunted out into the cold.

In a very public way, President Khama constantly compares and criticizes these people. And shockingly, this also applies to cabinet ministers.

At his many Kgotla meetings, where he is often surrounded by hordes of them, he never misses an opportunity to single out at least one for disparaging and point out the many ways in which they have fallen short of his delivery revolution.

Somehow, I sense that at the moment, Shaw Kgathi, that excitable minister of Youth, Sports and Culture believes he is among the closest to the president.
The exuberant short man is only fooling himself.

He doesn’t seem to understand that whatever presidential attention he is only a reward for the sterling role his culture and publicity committee played in the banishment of Gomolemo Motswaledi.
It will not be long before, like so many others, he too becomes expendable.
President Khama often strikes me as a cunningly clever man.

He is overly conscious of the immense hunger that BDP members have for his affection.
He uses this hunger as a tool with which he widens rivalry among party members.

The same hunger is used to widen and deepen differences between them.

Because he knows that everyone, especially the ranking followers, are hungry to be seen to be closest to him, the President uses this hunger to ignite savage rivalry and hawk-eyed jealousy among them.

The strategy is working wonders for the President while breaking many hearts and sending many careers right into the gutter.

Some time towards the end of next month, the Assistant Minister of Finance, Mbiganyi Tibone, will resign from cabinet.

I have often wondered how it has been that an experienced public servant, a long time permanent secretary and formerly a senior minister, running a successful business empire like Tibone could have accepted the position of a junior minister in Khama’s cabinet. There is no greater humiliation I can think of.

What had happened to his sense of pride?
To me the appointment was from beginning to the end demeaning, meant to massage and possibly exalt Tibone’s ego and sense of self-importance after he had been cruelly dropped from cabinet when Khama first became State President in April 2008.

A clever man that he is, I sense Tibone always knew that he and Khama were never cut out for one another but decided to give the President a benefit of doubt, if not for anything else then out of a deep rooted sense of public duty.

It has not worked. It was never going to work. Disappointed, defeated and possibly feeling used, the man is now taking the highway.

A proud and wealthy man that he is, Tibone’s adventure was not only ill-advised but also doomed right from the beginning.

Like Lesego Motsumi who was recently demoted from a position of senior minister to become a diplomat somewhere in Asia, Tibone must now be painfully aware that Khama cannot be trusted to stand by those who supported him when he needed them most. What a terribly hard lesson to learn it must have been for both of them!

All these are lessons that Daniel Kwelagobe should remember as he compiles a list that is effectively meant to circumvent elections at the oncoming BDP Central Committee.

Speaking at Molepolole last week, Khama announced that he has instructed Kwelagobe to compile a list of all people who want to hold positions in the BDP Central Committee.

We should not forget that this is the same Daniel Kwelagobe once cast as a sickly old man not worthy of a central committee position.

Why should it be Kwelagobe, who not so long ago was Khama’s chief nemesis, who has to draw a list that is meant to undermine inner-party democracy?

The time honoured strategy is first to make Kwelagobe feel important and start equating himself almost to a rainmaker, before finishing him off like so many others before him.

During the week, I received a message on my phone: “If DK becomes a willing accomplice to the subversion of democracy by going along with Khama’s plan for no elections; what was the Kanye Congress all about? Is DK conceding that Khama was right afterall?”

I hope Kwelagobe will remember what Lord Palmerston once said: “Britain [Khama] does not have political allies, only political interests!”

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