Sunday, January 24, 2021

Khama’s inability to change will prove a priceless boon to the new party!

There is no questioning that the coming into being of BMD, the newly formed political party, will prove hugely disturbing to President Ian Khama.

For the next few months he will be a very busy man.

For a man who prizes serenity and inner peace that he apparently only finds in his favourite spots in the wilderness of the Okavango, the President must no doubt be a rattled man.

Having arrived into the presidency on a universally popular platform, for the first time he finds himself living in a state of frenetic anxiety, quite an unnatural existence for him which is made all the more demeaning by the fact that the people causing him sleepless nights were not so long ago a part of his BDP.

Ever suspicious of politics and politicians, the coming into BMD will no doubt drive him up the slopes of paranoia. It will not be long before he gives yet another interview where he will publicly trash politicians and reiterate just how hurt he is that he has ended up as a politician himself.

For him, the Botswana Movement for Democracy is a first test of political strength.
Born directly from his BDP and a direct result of his leadership style, we should thank BMD for giving us an opportunity to see first hand just how President Khama reacts when he is under pressure.

For a man who came to power on a ticket of warm affection and astounding popularity, a breakaway BMD is no doubt the first damning attack on his credibility as a political leader.
His first public reaction – a high powered public rally in Francistown, clearly aimed at crushing BMD even before it gets off the ground, goes a long way to show that our President is a bewildered man. He still cannot fully grasp how it has been that he ended up faced with a political failure of this potential magnitude.

It’s a terrible personal shock he will no doubt take long to come to terms with.
Thus for the first time in my life I find myself harbouring a rather strange feeling of sympathy for the man.

But he needs not be surprised.

It was always going to happen.

In fact, he should be grateful that it took rather too long to happen.
For answers and clues as to why this is happening to him, he need not look any further from where he is standing. His divisive leadership style is to blame.
President Ian Khama has always shown an amazing lack of sympathy for the Barata Phathi faction of the BDP even as he embraced and coddled with the A-Team.

To add insult to injury, he spurned all efforts by Barata Phathi as they tried, at great risks to their credibility, to endear themselves to him.

While the faction grudgingly respected him and gave him the benefit of doubt, it was clear from the beginning that as a group they never really warmed and embraced him.
Even during his days as Vice President, the less charitable among them always perceived him as the real mastermind behind the A-Team.

He did nothing to allay such suspicions.

His biggest mistake was to fail to return the favour and make concessions by way of meeting the increasingly beleaguered Barata Phathi half way.
That the faction took so long to break away shows just how they had mistakenly believed in the cause of fighting from within.

That said, President Khama has his flaws, but if truth be told automatic succession is at centre of all the BDP malaise.
There is need for reform.

To bring back peace into the BDP, Khama should abandon automatic succession and allow every citizen of Botswana to dream to become State President if they so wished.
He should also seriously consider allowing people to directly elect who they want as their President. After all he has nothing to lose.

Gomolemo Motswaledi was banished not because he had manhandled Khama, as many have been made to believe, but because he posed the biggest risk to the automatic succession project.
That said it seems unlikely that Khama is about to change his leadership style, not least because he seems to sincerely believe to be on a righteous path.

He comes across as a crusader driven by an inner faith that history will ultimately absolve him, a situation not helped by those who portray him as a gift from God sent here to rescue Batswana from themselves.

In the meantime the new movement can afford to be on a celebratory mood.
Who would not be! They arrive in the scene with all the ground work fully prepared for them.
At least for the time being, they need not justify themselves. If anybody dares to ask them why they started a new movement all they need do is give a two word answer; “Ian Khama,” before moving on to more important things like managing public expectations and carving a working relationship with other opposition parties.

Their biggest campaign asset, at least for a foreseeable future, is Ian Khama whose propensity to sideline everybody else except his friends is bound to work wonders for them.

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