Friday, February 23, 2024

Khama’s legacy; a litany of dis-honoured, promises, shattered hopes and broken dreams┬á

From the beginning his potential was never a subject of doubt.

Even those who hoped he could fail, privately talked of what a big success he could turn out to be.

Way before became State president, this column talked of how he could turn out to become this country’s best President ever.

At the tail, end, the same column warned that he could easily become the worst because of the enormous hopes he carried on his shoulders.

Enoch Powell, a leading British politician and scholar once observed that all political careers end up in failure.

Powell could easily have been talking about Ian Khama.

On the eve of his retirement Khama gives an impression of a leader flapping around for a legacy ÔÇô and with no time on his side.

From early on we were told that poverty eradication was his signature program, very much the same way like fighting HIV/AIDs was for Festus Mogae.

It turns out that talk of poverty eradication has been nothing more than theatrics.

Rather than get poverty eradicated, we have seen it get more and more romanticized.

Barely a year before he leaves office, Ian Khama is yet to implement even a single one of the 5Ds he had set out for himself as a roadmap for his presidency.

The 5Ds have been nothing but vain.

In no particular order the depth of Democracy has under him grown more and more questionable.

Given the extent to which democracy was once one of Botswana’s strongest sales pitches when he first arrived, the loss is not just for this country, but also for Africa.

The demise of democracy in Botswana has denied the continent a long glowing example it has grown used to showcasing.

For better or for worse, when world detractors argue that it is not possible for democracy to take root and thrive in Africa, they point to Botswana as an example of how a once promising experiment finally imploded. “Trouble in Paradise,” a headline in the British Guardian newspaper screamed not so long ago in reference to Botswana.

Delivery, especially in the public service has never been lower.

Dignity, especially for the poor has become nothing more than a theater.

Discipline, by far his most favorite of all his 5Ds has all but collapsed ÔÇô at a personal level, inside his cabinet but also at a national level.

The collapse in discipline must strike as a personal defeat to our President.

No wonder his aides complain privately about how irascible he has lately grown.

Khama has never made a secret his disdain for politics.

In private space he must be fighting inner demons, wondering if all his efforts in a field he so much despised have really been worth it.

Second in culpability to Khama the man, has been the party he has used to climb and ultimately stay in power.

Without fail, the BDP has often preferred to look past Khama’s individual weaknesses in favour of blaming the collective.

Blind loyalty to the leader has been the party’s enduring fealty.

After 2014 disaster at the polls where his party for the first time in its history turned a share of the popular vote less than 50 percent of the total, the Botswana Democratic Party failed, not once but twice to say that the leader had been a problem.

Apportioning blame, otherwise their favorite pastime, simply does not apply when it comes to Khama, it would seem.

To purchase his way out of being held personally liable, the president reluctantly agreed to a half baked Economic Stimulus Package.

It was the first time that many inside the BDP had seen Khama’s back against the wall. But a great opportunity was missed.

By itself and of itself, this has altogether not been surprising: To be fair to the BDP, the party has been among the first victims of Khama’s presidentialism.

From his early days as the days as leader he set on defeating and purging his internal opponents until nobody inside the BDP dared to publicly raise their voice against him.

Not only did he weaken the party against government, he saw it as a nuisance that he only periodically turned to when he needed a vessel to assure the certainty and clarity of his path to the State House.

Widely acclaimed as Botswana’s most powerful and most executive-minded president in the country’s history, Khama has often used his powers to undermine the very agenda that he had set for himself.

He started off with so much goodwill ÔÇô a hero who unfortunately failed to stay on course.

It would be wrong to accuse him of hubris.

His undoing has been his strong and inflexible attachment to his set of beliefs.

A refusal to open up for new comers inside his inner circle added to the disaster.

Put beside all his predecessors, Khama has been an unrepentant ideologue, strongly believing in the use of presidential powers and privileges that come with those powers.

He has spurned accountability. And remained wedded to populism as shown by his love for dispensing the goodies.

In the beginning he pledged allegiance to the rule of law.

Yet immediately set on course to ridiculing the judiciary.

His biggest success, if one can call it that is he will leave behind a judiciary that is on its knees ÔÇô literally.

Never before has this country watched so many High Court Judges coerced into pledging their loyalty and allegiance to a sitting Head of State as it happened under Khama.

Weakening the judiciary has not been his only biggest achievement.

Parliament, never strong to start with, has now recoiled into comatose.

The media, from the beginning his first nemesis has become a shadow of its past.

Not even those media houses that were quick to pledge their allegiance have been spared his wrath.

Semi-judicial institutions like the Ombudsman and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime survive at his pleasure.

The upshot of it all is that the public look at them as a bad joke ÔÇô existing to waste public finances and not uphold the mandates for which they were created.

Achievements in the economic realm, especially in so far as they relate to job creation are impossible to pinpoint.

Last month his minister of finance told a gobsmacked nation that it was no longer Government responsibility to create employment.

Corruption has been Khama’s darkest and indelible blight. And is likely to follow him into retirement.

His steadfast refusal to agree to a law on declaration of assets is only second to his loyalty to his corrupt associates.

For someone who promised so much, in the end he delivered so little.


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