Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has announced that he wishes to resign from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and in the same breath stopped short of endorsing Umbrella for Democratic Change president, Duma Boko.
Khama requested to be allowed to resign from the BDP at a public meeting in Serowe yesterday (Saturday). He asked Serowe residents to ponder his request and meet in two to three weeks for a final decision. He said in the mean time he would be touring other constituencies to present his request.
In what came across as a loaded statement, Khama took a swipe at government for grounding Boko’s jet and helicopter which had been loaned to him by South African Entrepreneur Zunaid Moti. He told the gathering that “I wish Boko gets back his jet and helicopter and when he does I will ask him for a ride because government will not let me use official aircraft. So when you see me flying with Boko in his aircraft you should not be surprised.”
In the very next breath, Khama told the gathering that their ballot was a weapon they should use to defend their democracy against President Masisi. He said there were candidates in the UDC, Alliance for Progressives (AP) and BDP independent candidates who could be relied upon to help defend democracy.
Besides tacitly endorsing Boko, Khama further indicated support for BDP independent candidates saying they were cheated during the party primary elections.
Khama’s apparent plan to resign from the BDP and support opposition candidates and BDP independent candidates was recommended by a team of consultants engaged by his sponsors in South Africa.
The team of consultants compiled a report stating: “Mr Khama retains affection in the hearts of many Botswana people. Footage of his community upliftement visits to communities show a man of magnetism and is still able to rouse the crowds. It is unlikely his predecessor in retirement could retain the appeal Mr Khama still does. In this context if the above options are considered unviable, Mr Khama can still resign from BDP and support opposition candidates well-disposed to him without him seeking return to office in the case of a change of government. The relationship between the new government and Mr Khama will be a subject of negotiations and agreements before any commitments can be made.”
The report further stated that,” Our attention has been drawn to the possibility of Mr Khama supporting independent candidates comprising mainly BDP members who allege to have been cheated in the primary elections. In carefully selected constituencies, at local government and parliamentary level, independent candidates with enough support can win against BDP official candidates hostile to Mr Khama. If they fail they can take away enough votes for opposition to possibly win the constituencies in question. The biggest loser in this scenario is Mr Masisi.” The consultants stated that, “unlike any of his predecessors, and other presidents who will come after him, Mr Khama can count on a loyal following from his chieftainship territory. It is impossible for everyone in his areas of royal jurisdiction to support the paramount chief as already evidenced by activists in the territory backing Mr Masisi. But as a decidedly rural territory, we are confident Mr Khama’s support for independents and selected opposition candidates can tilt the scales in areas which were previously impregnable if he reaches out to the multitudes who still regard the chief as more important than a political party. Again a separate, thorough feasibility study of individual constituencies in which support will be given to independents and opposition candidates will have to be done.”
Throughout his address in Serowe over the weekend, Khama played his chieftainship card, constantly referring to himself as Kgosi Kgolo (paramount chief) , and among current BDP members of Parliament in his “chieftainship territory” who he will seek to unseat are Vice president Slumber Tsogwane and Minister of Tertiary Education Dorcus Makgatho-Malesu.
He said he had always known Tsogwane to be a humble and disciplined man. But not anymore.
“People of Boteti West should know that Tsogwane has changed. I would like to meet them and tell them that Tsogwane is no longer the man he used to be.”
In an apparent attack of Makgatho – Malesu, Khama told the gathering that, “There is another minister. She is in our District. I have a farm in her constituency. She came to me attacking Masisi. Now she has changed. It’s politics of the stomach. I will be visiting her constituency.”
Khama said it was difficult for him to continue as a BDP member because the party had lost direction. He blamed it on President Masisi and Vice President Tsogwane.
Khama also came to the defence of South African business woman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe who was recently placed on a visa travel restriction list following reports that she sponsored Pelonomi Venson Moitoi’s attempt to unseat President Masisi. Khama told the Serowe gathering that Motsepe-Radebe was placed on the list because she is his friend and she has been assisting him. He however did not disclose the nature of the assistance.