Former President Ian Khama has said he has no contact with popular artist and musician ATI, who has lately been ramping pointed attacks against President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
For a few months now ATI has been calling on Masisi to resign.
The thinking inside government is that ATI is influenced by Khama who the government despises.
ATI has among other things called for an urgent meeting between Masisi and himself, but instead Masisi assigned his minister responsible for youth and culture Tumiso Rakgare.
ATI has rejected Rakgare.
He stood out the meeting saying he is above Rakgare and that his fight was also on behalf of people like Rakgare.
Speaking to The Telegraph through his aide, Khama said he is not surprised to learn that government thinks he is the one guiding ATI to rebel against them.
Khama called ATI a “brilliant” and “creative” young man.
And called the government “out of touch” with a majority of citizens.
“I think he is a talented young artist and a patriot who has a great passion for his country and its people. The manner in which he went about his demands reflects the feelings of a vastly growing majority who are angry and frustrated by the deteriorating state of affairs in this country. I have no opinion about whether he should [president] Masisi or not except to say nothing will come of it if he were to do so,” said Khama
In some of his recorded messages, ATI is seen standing before a landmark owned by a leading industrialist in Botswana who is of Indian heritage Satar Dada.
In the video he calls for citizen economic empowerment and rants at how Batswana are poor in a rich country.
ATI has also been giving interviews wherein he articulates and further hones his message against Masisi.
One senior official confirmed that ATI has become a big distraction in government enclave.
“This comes after president Masisi has been experiencing a streak of bad press including on his personal investments but also on general lack of direction in government,” he said.
“The trouble,” he continued, “is that he raises serious issues that this government campaigned on, that they are not taking up.”
On when he last met ATI, former president had this to say: “I have had no contact with ATI since I left office. They mistakenly believe that for anyone to express their disdain for the regime they have to be influenced by me. This shows just how out of touch they are with the majority of people in this country and their contempt for them.”
Since leaving office Khama has been fighting non-stop against his successor and former deputy, Mokgweetsi Masisi.