You can compile a list of Khama’s weaknesses but one thing you are never going to be able to get on that list is lateness. So, you can well imagine how he would have felt when, in the last hours of his presidency on April 1 2018, the incoming president kept him and everybody else waiting. It was at this point, Khama told a South African publication, that he “knew there was a problem” and last week, he got a chance to emote about that experience.
“Time-keeping is respect,” he told Africa Report. “You don’t keep people waiting. It’s very disrespectful. You can’t say now that, because I’m president, everyone else is a lesser person. And this is the problem with this guy. He thinks the nation should be his servants, but he [should be] there to serve them. He’s on a joyride. He’s just intoxicated on power.”
By “this guy”, Khama is referring to a man who otherwise enjoys the over-padded title of His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Following the 2014 general election and the retirement from politics of Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Khama brought in Masisi as his new Vice President. In the latter position, Masisi attended hundreds of official events alongside Khama. He knew Khama’s reputation for punctuality and would certainly have arrived at events on time. Protocol would also have forced Masisi to arrive way before Khama did. In terms of such protocol, the Vice President and ministers arrive before the president. The latter means that April 1, 2018 would have marked the first time that Masisi kept Khama waiting.
Khama makes a point about respect but there is another: keeping an incumbent president waiting would have been subversion of protocol. At that point, Khama was still president and Masisi only vice president and would become president only after he was sworn in. In other words, Masisi was still junior to Khama.
While he would obviously have been seething with rage, Khama kept his cool long and well enough to exchange a bear hug with the Masisi after he was sworn in. There would be two more interactions between former and incumbent president. At this point, their relationship had broken down. If revenge is what it was, Khama would get an opportunity to revenge against Masisi’s slight on April 1, 2018 by not rising at two events when the new president arrived. The first was at the University of Botswana and the second was the opening ceremony of the 2018 Khawa Sand Dunes Challenge.
Besides what Khama told Africa Report, Masisi’s habitual lateness, which may have to do with a decades-long career in a civil service that is floating around in timelessness, is becoming legendary. Some events at which he officiated have started extremely late because he himself showed up extremely late.