Sunday, June 23, 2024

Khama usually gets what he wants but will he get Botswana back?

When he left the orderliness of the army for the chaos of politics, Lieutenant General Ian Khama wanted to continue flying army aircraft. As the immediate former commander of the Botswana Defence Force, there is no way in the world that he would not have known that the BDF Act doesn’t permit people who are not members of the army to fly its aircraft. However, Khama wanted to continue flying army aircraft and got to do that.

Following the 1999 general election and his first major disagreement with President Festus Mogae, Vice President Khama insisted on taking a five-year sabbatical leave. Nowhere in the world has any politician gone on a sabbatical leave but Mogae caved in and Khama disappeared from public life. He never actually went away for five years but became the first politician in history to go on a sabbatical which took a long while.

From 1979 when he was installed, Khama has always worn another hat as the Bangwato kgosi – supreme traditional leader. In terms of a standard set during the presidency of Khama’s own father, Sir Seretse Khama, one can’t be both politician and kgosi at the same time. However, on becoming a politician in 1998, Khama also wanted to remain Bangwato kgosi and did indeed remain Bangwato kgosi.  Some 14 year later when he was president himself, Khama would perform the ceremonial garbing of the new Bakgatla kgosi, Kgafela II, with a royal leopard-skin coat. As the emcee announced, Khama was performing that role in his capacity as Bangwato kgosi.

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