Sunday, November 27, 2022

Self-doubt behind Khama’s refusal to review the Constitution

In his State of the Nation Address, President Ian Khama made it clear that he does not take kindly to suggestions of a Constitutional Review.

Not only did he reject suggestions, he also labeled those on the other side of the debate self-serving.

Now, that is unfortunate.

Given the power that he derives from every statute ever passed in the country, it goes without saying that the State President should be readily generous to those who may not even agree with him. Of all the people, he has nothing to lose by being generous even to opponents.

Khama is a very popular politician (yes politician) who, since becoming President, has made sure that not a single figure emerged on the wings as to be able to seriously harbour any presidential pretensions.

And there are reasons for that.

He fancies himself a godsend indispensable.

I doubt even his father Seretse Khama had such unassailable feelings of indispensability.

During Seretse, it was clear that on the wings were such people like Quette Masire and, to a lesser extent, Moutlakgola Ngwako.

When Masire got his bite at the cherry, there were people like Peter Mmusi, PHK Kedikilwe, and Daniel Kwelagobe and, in the latter years, Festus Mogae, who were real pretenders to the throne.
During his time as President, Mogae would not sleep a wink without being haunted by the spectacle of one day being overthrown by the Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe axis.

Mogae knew that beneath the shadows were real people who would immediately take over from him.

In fact, it was exactly out of this uneasiness that Mogae literally ran to the army barracks and knelt on a bended knee as he begged Khama to come and join him as Vice President.

Mogae wanted a bouncer to assure him protection against Kedikilwe and Kwelagobe.

Thus for the ten years that he was State President, Mogae lived under the shadow of his protector.
Khama has not allowed that kind of immortal political setup to develop.

From early on, he made it clear that under no circumstances should his Vice President aspire for the top position.

Mompati Merafhe, we now learn, could be retired at any time. How sad!

Fears of personal inadequacy are behind Khama’s strategy to make it difficult for strong leaders to emerge around him.

He is happiest in the company of political minnows; animated toys who look up to him to provide them with not just positions but political survival as well.

Take, for example, the BDP Secretary General ÔÇô Thato Kwerepe.

I have no doubt that Kwerepe is a kind and pleasant human being.
But for goodness sake the man cannot be said to be a good choice of Secretary General for an important institution like the BDP.

I doubt there are any serious BDP members who regard Kwerepe as a serious politician who cannot only influence Khama but also seriously aspire to one day fill Khama’s boots!

With the possible exception of Satar Dada who scares the party members by his immense personal wealth and the redoubtable Daniel Kwelagobe, who by the way Khama never wanted as National Chairman, the current BDP Central Committee is a motley crew of waddling mediocres.

When he sacked and frustrated Central Committee members that had been elected by a Congress at Kanye – who he looked down as habitual insubordinates – the President deliberately made sure that they all were replaced by faces of mute and unquestioning dependence, the people he could easily control and influence like Kwerepe.

The President likes it that way.

One only has to listen to the nicknames and off the cuff jokes he makes about his charges at BDP rallies to make an informed understanding of how the President relates to his followers.

During his time as the President’s poster boy, Oliphant Mfa was referred to as Kabila, a doting name, we were made to belief in reference to the late DRC President.

That name is no longer used because Mfa has ceased to be the President’s blue-eyed boy. Our Kabila has become expendable and attention has shifted elsewhere.

At the height of his tussle with Kwelagobe, the President stopped calling the chairman by all the fancy names he had used before.

Understandably all those nicknames have since resurfaced because the President needs Kwelagobe to stave off BMD.

Even the serious minded Dada has a presidential nickname. There is no way the BDP would survive for a week without the man’s patronage!

The point is that Khama constantly compares and criticises his charges so that they fight among themselves for his affection.

He deliberately sets them against one another, the better to control them.

He uses their natural hunger for his affection as a tactic to widen and deepen their individual differences so that he retains the title of “undisputed King.”

You only have to separately talk to a few BDP members in leadership positions to appreciate the true sense of personal rivalry and unsleeping jealousy they have for each other.

Like little kids who look up to their father figure to assert their identities, none of these grown-ups can finish a sentence without dropping Khama’s name: H.E, they all call him.
Every sentence, no matter how meaningless and mundane, is prefaced with “As H.E said….”
If one member of BDP is temporarily able to bask in the much coveted presidential warmth, it is because others have been ruthlessly cast out into the cold.
In English, this strategy is called “Divide and Rule.”

Although he often hurls obscenities at ZANUÔÇôPF, I have grown to suspect that secretly somehow Khama envies Robert Mugabe who has been able to continue unfettered as life President of Zimbabwe.
Or else why would he not want the country to decide whether or not they would be any happier directly electing their President, and reducing his powers as to make him more accountable in line with the extensive powers vested in him by the constitution and all the other smaller statutes.

Although he feigns the big man confidence and all the outer machismo, a closer look at the President’s mannerisms has all the signs of a person consumed with self doubt, ingrained personal inadequacy and a smouldering sense of mortality.

His rejection of calls for Constitutional Review is true to the word self-serving.
You have not heard this from me!

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper