Saturday, April 13, 2024

Khama’s legacy of tragedy

President Khama is leaving office in a few days time.  The question is: what will he be remembered for?  Khama when coming to power, made his vision for this country very clear.  His road  map was crafted on the four D’s;  Democracy, Development, Discipline and Delivery.  In my view the nation can only judge him from what he promised the people.

Let us start with democracy, did Khama improve our democracy or at the very least maintain it to where he found it?  This is a critical question which every Motswana must answer honestly.  Our democracy, that is Botswana democracy or democracy in the context of Botswana is rooted in our Setswana tradition and culture.  Historically, Batswana did not have elections but we had democracy, we had “Puso ya batho ka batho”.  A traditional leader was born king.  Kgosi was trained not only from childhood but even before he was born.  This was so because the queen mother was chosen by the tribe (nation) from a royal or noble family.  This was to make sure that the future queen mother was well groomed to come and nurse and nurture the future king.  The king was not allowed to pick any girl from the street.  For example; Pulane Moremi the mother of king Lotsholabe II was from Barolong royal family in South Africa.  Dr. Semane Motlotlegi is the daughter of Tshekedi Khama and she is married to the Bafokeng king in South Africa.  Bathoen II had married into a royal family in Bloemfontein, Mangaung. The list goes on. When the Prince grows up he was taken to be tutored by a well experienced king in another tribe or nation. 

Before king Letsholathebe came to power regardless of his academic degrees from Europe, he was taken to Manyane to be trained in the arts of democracy, rule of law traditional Setswana laws and custom by Mosielele of Bahurutshe.  The king’s uncles (borrangwanagwe kgosi) were his ministers and chief advisors.  The Pitso was the people’s national Assembly or parliament if you like.  The following concept and words were the watch words for our democracy.  Words like therisanyo, setho, mmualebe, tlotlo, e.t.c

When Sir Seretse and Sir Ketumile took over from the traditional leaders, they maintained or put this concept into current context of Botswana.  Borre Seretse le rre Masire knew that although the leadership is now elected, the concept of therisanyo and mmualebe are still relevant today.  You kill therisanyo and mmualebe and you kill the backbone of our Setswana democracy.

When Khama came into power he killed or cancelled all-party conference, killed dikgang tsa palamente at Radio Botswana.  What we have now is a censored

dikgang tsa palamente. He also stopped press conferences.

At all conferences, national issues were discussed and ironed out. Differences of politicians and parties were put aside and leaders would reach consensus on major issues.  It was a sign of respect for different opinions.  All those were killed during Khama’s rule. There are no longer all-party conferences, parliament is reduced to a rubber stamp of the executive and the executive is a rubber stamp of the president, no more debate.

When you suppress the debate how are you going to hear the wisdom from the wise?  This is why we say Khama has killed our democracy.

In Setswana nobody is above anyone, nobody is wiser than others.  So when it came to the first D, democracy, Khama failed the test.


It is during Khama’s rule that development in this country came to a halt.  Lack of money was always an excuse.  But when it came to personal use, the money was always available.  Many projects which were started by the former presidents were stopped.  Botswana used to boast of the best roads in Africa, today even some of the roads in Zimbabwe are better than the road between Maun and Shakawe.

The Morule B Saga, the BCL mess, Palapye Glass Plant and many more developmental crisis took place during Khama’s rule.


Under Khama rule, there is no discipline in the country.  At schools, at work places, there is no discipline.  This is so due to lack of employment opportunities. People are hungry and angry.

People will come to work late if they are paid slave wages.  By failing to create employment Khama has bred indiscipline among youth and leaders.

So when it comes to discipline Khama failed to.


It is during Khama’s rule that this country experienced the longest strike in the history of this country.  As a matter of fact, disgruntled workers cannot deliver.  The under paid worker cannot deliver.  In short Khama disregards the interest of the workers and he expects them to work.

Corruption and looting of national treasurers under Khama’s rules tells what kind of person he is more than his giving away of blankets and sweets.  However, when it comes to the economy of this country we can be fair to Khama to say it was Mogae who killed the economy of this country and Khama buried it. Mogae resurrected people through ARV  and Khama enslaved them mentally through fear.

Mogae killed the economy of this country by devaluing of the pula and allowing people to take any amount of money from this country outside.  By allowing corruption and looting Khama was putting the last nail on the coffin of our economy.

In my view, corruption and the looting of our resources are approved from the top.

If not so, how do you explain the situation where the Director of DIS is implicated in looting and corruption scandal day in day out and Khama does not say a word!

We are told the DIS director is a good friend of the president, if so are they not in it together.

If you ask me what kind of legacy Khama going to leave behind, my answer is a simple and straight forward one –  Khama is the king who looted his own kingdom, Khama is the general who declared a psychological war on his people, Khama is the president who deceived his country! His legacy is a tragedy to this country.  The psychological war which Khama waged on Batswana.

Since he came to power he destroyed many people than you can imagine.  Today many Batswana are dead alive because of Khama’s psychological warfare.  Many Batswana have stopped thinking and Khama is thinking for them.  Khama has destroyed our people, not only in the BDP but also in the opposition.

Our people have developed a culture of not questioning leadership.  Even when leaders are lying, the followers just say amen.  Leaders say what ever they want to say and followers say yes.  The yes Boss mentality is destroying this country.  Batswana used to question leadership at the kgotla, at freedom squares at party congresses and conferences.  Now there is no more questioning.  The opposition leadership is also benefiting from this mental destruction of our people.  Khama has become a small god, the opposition leaders have become small gods.  What a tragedy! Because Khama has made our people believe that he cares much about them, he loves them more than he loves himself, that is why they contribute their last thebe for his farewell parties.  People sincerely believe that he is a good leader, and this mentality also benefits the opposition leaders.  People believe them even if they deceive them.  What a tragedy.  Batswana I know are Batswana who believe in mmualebe.  Khama has destroyed that and the opposition leaders are the biggest beneficiaries.  Thanks to King Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama. 

*Dr Cosmos K.Moenga is veteran of the opposition Botswana National Front.


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