Sunday, September 20, 2020

Remembering Francis Ngombe

Sunday Standard Staffer Morula Morula looks back ten years and says most of the predictions made by the late Zambian fortune teller Dr Francis Ngombe in 1998 still stand.

Exactly ten years ago, a renowned Zambian medical doctor and fortune teller, Dr Francis Ngombe, predicted that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party would remain in power for only fifteen years.

If Ngombe’s predictions are true, then the BDP is traveling its last five years in power before it loses to an opposition formation.
If Ngombe’s assertions are true and despite the President’s popularity, Khama will stay in that office for only five years.

To put it into context, some time in the late 1970s, Ngombe predicted that Britain would in a short time have a first woman Prime Minister.
It was not long before the legendary Mrs. Margaret Thatcher walked into N0 10 Downing Street.

It was Dr Ngombe who, in the early 1980s, told the world that Uganda’s former President, Milton Obote, would fall.

True to Ngombe’s prediction, Obote was to be overthrown by a military rebellion.

Long before Ian Khama joined politics, Ngombe predicted that a very powerful person was going to join Botswana politics.

Ngombe said that person would not only be popular but would in many ways change Botswana’s political discourse before quickly fading into oblivion.
At around the same time Dr. Ngombe also predicted that Botswana would have a Vice President who would overshadow his principal.

Given the relationship between Festus Mogae and Ian Khama that prediction held.

For most of his ten years, it was largely accepted that Mogae held the office while Khama controlled the power levers.

While there is a disagreement across the board on whether Ngombe’s prediction on the BDP will stand, a University of Botswana academic Taolo Lucas says so far all leads point to the prophecy fulfilling itself.
It is, however, important to declare from the onset that as Secretary General of the opposition Botswana Congress Party, Lucas is by no account disinterested commentator on the matter.
Lucas says beyond Khama there is no life for the BDP.

He says an unofficial position has been created inside the BDP that no one person can succeed where Khama has failed.

He says the indications are that in the next five years people will get disillusioned with Khama as the failure of his policies become all too clear.
Lucas is quick to point out that in his five months as president, Ian Khama has by far outdone all the previous presidents in his “undemocratic tendencies.”
Chief amongst these, says Lucas, is the fact that Khama pays little regard to democratic institutions such as Parliament, the Ombudsman, and the judiciary.

Above all, says Lucas, Khama is still married to his military past.
The truth of the matter is that while Khama is a very popular person, his style of management has recently come under close public scrutiny.
Many are not impressed with his arbitrary and mechanical attempts to micromanage people’s personal lives.
He recently announced that his government would increase alcohol prices by 70% as a way of reducing alcohol related ills.

The undemocratic way of its rule, he says, is shown by the directives which are issued on almost daily basis without consultation having taken place. The examples of this, he says, are numerous such as the directive passed recently by the Office of the President regarding the increment on the tax on liquor products by as much as 70 percent.

“I cannot put a time frame on when the BDP will lose power, but we surely are headed for economic doom,” said Lucas.
A sign of the bad things to come, says Lucas, is that civil servants are intimidated on a daily basis by the President, his Vice and even the junior Ministers.

For example, he says that one junior Minister, Ambrose Masalila, recently told some civil servants that they will be replaced by fresh graduates.
“In essence the current leaders look at themselves as angels while they see everybody else as evil.”

Another UB lecturer, Dr Emmanuel Botlhale, says that he is also of the view that the current government is very undemocratic.
He cites the recent regulations on liquor consumption.

Botlhale says the way Ian Khama shouted down Specially Elected Member of Parliament Botsalo Ntuane when the young MP expressed dismay at the liquor regulations is also a bad omen.
He says it is a clear example that the government was undemocratic and hostile to different views from its own.
Like Lucas, Dr Botlhale would not commit himself on the time frame, but said the BDP’s stay in power would not go beyond Khama.

On the other hand Dr David Sebudubudu disagrees.

He says the notion that the current disgruntlement will cause a major political shift is baseless.
According to Sebudubudu, the so called turbulence is so minor that it will not affect the government, least of all cause the government to fall.

Besides, says Sebudubudu, there is currently no serious opposition party in the country to talk about which simply means that no serious contest will take place in the next 10 years.
As such he says that he sees the ruling party sailing through for another ten years of uninterrupted power despite Ngombe’s predictions.

As is to be expected, the BDP Deputy Executive Secretary, Fidelis Molao, dismisses Ngombe’s predictions: “We are professionals and do not work on witchcraft predictions”.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.