More than a year after living as an exile in South Africa at an undisclosed location, former president Ian Khama is coming under a microscope. Last year, Sunday Standard learnt that while some members of the Botswana Patriotic Front have visited Khama in South Africa, they never actually meet him where he lives.
Khama is a blood relative of King Leruo Tshekedi Molotlegi of the Bafokeng who live in the North West Province. Molotlegi’s mother was the daughter of Tshekedi Khama, who was paternal uncle and guardian to Khama’s father and founding Botswana president, Sir Seretse Khama. In the early days of Khama’s exile, it was rumoured that he stayed at the Molotlegi’s royal palace. It would seem that he has relocated.
A South African newspaper called The Star is now alleging that Khama is “hiding” in an exclusive luxury resort in Durban called Zimbali Estate. This revelation is based on investigative work that the paper carried out. South African newspapers are well-resourced and their investigative units, some staffed by former detectives, have generous budgets. Khama’s stature means that no expense is being spared.
On its Facebook, Zimbali Estate touts itself as “a natural contemporary lifestyle estate, offering an authentic experience to multi-generations.” The Estate is home to Zimbali Lodge and The Capital Zimbali, “leading international hotels that offer world-class accommodation, and business and leisure amenities.” It also offers “an unsurpassed wildlife experience.”
Developments of this past week suggest that Khama has overstayed his welcome in South Africa.
Not only could his hideout have been revealed, a South African NGO called African Transformation Movement has called for Khama to be extradited because he is a fugitive from the law. Star quotes ATM’s leader, Vuyo Zungula, as saying that South Africa should comply with the dictates of the extradition treaty that it has signed with Botswana.
“South Africa must respect the rule of law, even if an accused is your brother-in-law or your close friend. South Africa is still trying to extradite Sheppard Bushiri and the Gupta brothers, but the government refuses let former Botswana president Ian Khama face the music in his country. The rule of law must apply for all. Our laws reject that we harbour Khama here. Therefore, he must be sent back to Botswana.”
Aligned to that cause is another NGO called the Institute of Democracy and Transformation, which has announced that it plans to effect Khama extradition through court action it will be launching soon.
“We are not going to harbour fugitives in South Africa. We didn’t allow it with [Sudan’s former president Omar] al-Bashir, and we’re not going to allow it with Ian Khama,” Star quotes the NGO as saying.
Khama also had his first baptism of journalistic fire last week when an eNCA journalist who tossed him softball questions 12 years ago asked him tough questions this time around. On a programme called Checkpoint, Nkepile Mabuse checked Khama on the finer points of a story that he has been feeding South African media for over a year and has never been challenged on.