Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, his family members and close associates have been warned that President Mokgweetsi Masisi may prosecute them after the October 2019 general elections.
A report compiled by a team of South African political consultants engaged by Khama and Pelonomi Venson Moitoi’s sponsors states that, “some interview subjects strongly suspect that after the general elections scheduled for October 2019, more vigorous action against Mr Khama, his family and associates will be put in motion by the current president when he has secured a sound mandate.”
The consultants proposed that Khama should cut an exit deal with President Mokgweetsi Masisi which would guarantee protection for him, his family and friends. Should Khama agree to the proposal, among those expected to be part of the deal is former Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Isaac Kgosi who is currently facing a number of possible corruption charges. In fact the consultants see Kgosi’s prosecution as an attack on Khama. “State security agencies have been deployed in the campaign to vilify Mr Khama and his associates. A prominent example is the public arrest of the former head of national intelligence agency in full glare of flashing cameras and in front of his family in a move calculated to exact total humiliation on the official in question.”
The consultants’ recommendation states: “for Mr Khama to formally resign his BDP membership and take on the role of a revered statesman, which profile he still enjoys in many parts of the world and in his own country. In this role he will be less handicapped in carrying out his community upliftment programmes which appears to be another source of the fallout with Mr Masisi who seems to be a man not prepared to share the limelight with anyone, least of all his immediate predecessor. But in retirement will Mr Khama’s associates and supporters enjoy protection from Mr Masisi’s government? The terms of adopting revered statesman role will have to be mutually agreed by the two men and whatever agreement is brokered must be iron clad in terms of guarantees.”
Should Masisi and Khama fail to agree on Khama’s exit proposal, the other recommendations by the consultants could mark the end of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party as we know it.
The team of consultants that presented the report two weeks before the BDP Congress state that “our information is derived from a range of open sources such as online media reports and media coverage of the situation unfolding in the country. We had also conducted informal interviews with a limited group of subjects resident in Botswana. They include ordinary members of the public, some individuals from the ruling BDP, whose opinions reflect the divide between the two subjects who form the basis of this assignment. Contact has also been made with strategically placed individuals in the diplomatic community specializing in Southern African political affairs.”
The report states that, “If our recommendation is adopted for Mrs. Moitoi to withdraw her participation, the Kang convention should accordingly be dismissed as a non-event because of the blatant manipulation of the process in favour of the incumbent. Logically the question then turns to which other measures should be put in place to defend the honour and integrity of Mr Khama, which is concomitant with protecting him and his supporters from the hostile trajectory adopted by the Mr Masisi. As observed before, a triumphant Masisi will emerge more bullish from the convention and nothing suggests his pursuit of Mr Khama will de-escalate.”
The report recommended that “Mr Khama to reach out to Mr Masisi, personally or through emissaries for a truce to be negotiated in the interests of both men and for the sake of the party. In this regard, Mr Masisi having registered his hollow victory, achieved with the price of manipulation, intimidation and abuse of state resources and assets may be amenable to a settlement in order to turn his attention to the general elections. A big question mark is would Mr Masisi’s conciliatory stance be genuine or only meant to buy him peace for purposes of the election after which he will return to haunt Mr Khama? Our analysis is that for Mr Masisi’s project to become a success, Mr Khama and his associates must continuously be vilified and portrayed in the eyes of the nation as the perennial enemies of the nation.”
The consultants recommended that Khama should do an in depth study on the viability of helping to set up a new party. “Mr Khama to aid the formation of a new political party. Mr Khama cannot lead the party in case he is accused of plotting what one of the Botswana ministers, Unity Dow referred to as a Putin strategy to return to power. But can a party formed after April with only 6 months to elections be organized and resourced in time for the elections? Will the new party be part of opposition coalition or go it alone? For the party to be of significant force it will have to rely on BDP members sympathetic to Mr Khama to make up the bulk of its leadership and rank and file. The viability of a new party will have to be studied in more depth.”
The other option presented to Khama is that of forming an alliance with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). “Mr Khama retains affection in the hearts of many Botswana people. Footage of his community upliftement visits to communities show a man of magnetism and is still able to rouse the crowds. It is unlikely his predecessor in retirement could retain the appeal Mr Khama still does. In this context if the above options are considered unviable, Mr Khama can still resign from BDP and support opposition candidates well-disposed to him without him seeking return to office in the case of a change of government. The relationship between the new government and Mr Khama will be a subject of negotiations and agreements before any commitments can be made”, states the report.