If it is true, and its seems undoubtedly so, that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration is grappling with a powerful renegade intelligence service which has the support of some influential civil servants, he has every right to be very worried, as do all of us. In simple language this would mean that President Masisi has to contend with largely an internal resistance within his administration that is undermining his authority and plotting his downfall. It would also mean that President Masisi’s legitimacy is under relentless attack. This is how modern witchcraft is practiced. These fears are not the kind of folktales traditionally used to pass the time or discipline children or the useless celebrity gossip that keeps us away from worrying about our own meaningless lives. They actually represent a real threat to the very existence of this nation.
In the field of Political Science, the system wherein rogue intelligence officers working in collusion with influential civil servants to exercise control of government is referred to as deep state. It actually implies the existence and operations of a powerful network within the government with its own agenda and means to undermine the authority of the state president and his cabinet. Its might generally derives from its control of the mechanisms of state power and it being secretive.
While the concept originated in Turkey to characterize an operation that witnessed the army colluding with hit men and other criminals to wage a dirty war against terrorists particularly Kurdish insurgents, in the United States it has been applied as recently in 2014 to describe a conspiracy theory of influential officials within government who control state policy behind the scenes. In very recent times the term has been used by President Donald Trump who warned that unelected operatives who defy the voters by undermining a legitimate administration to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy.
While the term has been and can be used in various contexts and occasions, it is nevertheless generally associated with conspiratorial practices of subverting, obstructing and undermining the authority of the executive branch of government. In the context of Botswana, the term is being used to express activities of renegade security agents and entrenched civil servants, especially beneficiaries of nepotistic appointments by the past administration, who are colluding with the immediate former state president and his coterie of relatives and friends to delegitimize President Masisi and frustrate his policy agenda.
In this context, the deep state is a real threat to Masisi’s presidency in so far as it denotes government machinery that is very hostile, probably engaged in subversive and treasonous activities and more crucially, led by a former state president. The deep state is somewhat an extraordinary occurrence wherein some people in government collude with a determined and resourced secret cabal that is plotting to unseat or overthrow a legitimate state president. It is also extraordinary in that its threat emanates from its use of a very popular former state president as its Godfather and also from its access to security apparatuses and classified information.
Whereas this may ordinarily be considered to be President Masisi’s problem to deal with, it in actual fact is very bad news for the country. In one instance it could mean that the deep state operatives inside of the government may and do leak state secrets to enemies within and without to discredit the incumbent president and his administration while inadvertently compromising national security and more importantly, sabotaging the whole fabric of our nationhood. The deep state activities are a threat to the very existence of Botswana as an independent nation founded on principles of democracy and governed with reference to majority rule and the consent of the governed.
This is a development that Batswana should never condone because if it is allowed to germinate, it will be pretty difficult to uproot like the Italian Mafia that actually started as a small band of single-family bully boys. If Batswana do not step up now, things can get worse. Batswana must put on their bush boots and bullet proof vests to take to the streets and protest against those who promote and propagate activities that undermine the authority of a legitimate administration.
Batswana must become outraged at those who are determined to frustrate and subvert the national policy agenda in pursuit of personal or group interests. Batswana must stand up and speak against these evil tendencies. They must take a bold and unambiguous stance to reject the politics of subversion. We must step up and restore some sanity to our politics and send a clear, forceful and consistent message that we will never entertain charlatans in whatever form.
The Government of Botswana, in spite of being infiltrated by bandits and its capability compromised, must see the deep state operatives as enemies and a danger to the republic. The operatives inside the government must be identified and purged because they are working to derail the new administration and its chances of success. It cannot be right that Botswana could have a state president who distrusts, and rightly so, officials of his government, fearing that such officials are out to get him. If President Masisi has evidence or genuinely believes that holdovers from Khama’s administration are orchestrating inside opposition to his presidency, he ought to remove them sooner than later so that government machinery could refocus its energies on implementing projects intended to improve the quality of life of the common man and providing basic services to the people of Botswana.
It has to be noted that in the course of undermining the incumbent president and frustrating the national policy agenda, the clique actually runs a parallel government whose aim is to cause confusion and throw a spanner at national progress. It is further noted that since stepping aside as the president of the republic, former president Dr Khama has continued to do much of what he cherished dong during his presidency ÔÇô distributing food hampers and serving junk soup to needy families ÔÇô as though to demonstrate that he is not gone yet and is not going anywhere anytime soon.
The former president has been traversing the length and breadth of the country officiating at strategic, crowd pulling community events that ensure he compete for public attention with the incumbent president. In true Mafia style, former president Dr Khama has gone on record publicly rebuking, disparaging and belittling members of the executive branch, many of who are his appointees, in ways that sought to maintain the clique’s momentum in publicly undermining the new administration at every turn. In some pat of the world where the ruling class is highly sensitive and suspicious of the activities of former presidents especially those with a military background, Dr Khama’s actions would have been classified as acts of terrorism to offer the state the much needed excuse to enforce an indefinite house arrest as a tough and uncompromising effort to restrain him from inflicting further damage. It is always wise to learn from others including learning from nutcases if only we can adopt and adapt workable practices.
Concluding, it has to be mentioned with authority that the deep state activities by and large represent stage one of the overthrow of an elected government. The modus operandi is to discredit a legitimate government hoping to conjure up a peaceful revolt against established government. When the first method fails, the deep state operatives escalate their activities and convert them into a violent insurrection to provoke a regime change. This is what should enrage the nation because the long term repercussions from the entrenched activities of the deep state would be too ghastly to contemplate. Essentially, the deep state phenomenon represents an extraordinary challenging moment that should make the celebrity-in-chief an enemy of the state.