Monday, September 28, 2020

The nation deserves to know the back-to-back deals entered into by Masisi & Khama

As a nation Botswana stands on the cusp of self-destruction.

A true Armageddon is upon us. Unless of course the evil forces among the people we call leaders can change course.

Unless someone can call time on him, the opposition UDC will continue look at Ian Khama and see in him a godsend.

This is notwithstanding irrefutable proof that the man has simply gone off the rails.

His latest plan to undermine the state has been willful and egregious.

He blames everybody except himself.

And from the look of things, there is no end in sight.

Both the country and government are going through a complex transition ÔÇô sailing through unchartered waters is a more apt description.

Assisted by the media that strangely continues to see him as a man on his way back, Khama has become a bigger nuisance to the establishment than the official opposition could ever have dreamt to be.

Other than that he sponsors some of the opposition leaders’ lifestyles, he has also been gleefully destabilizing both the ruling party and government in power.

This, the opposition now believes, is the easiest route to state power.

Khama’s strategy looks like to whittle away at the integrity of both government and President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Given the former president’s determination and sizeable popularity, that would be easy, were it not of the fact that he too is irredeemably discredited.

Save for one or two incidents, Masisi has by and large put on an impassive face against Khama’s tantrums.

Whether he’s been browbeaten into silence or deference or is doing it out of respect for the office he holds, it is for now not yet clear.

Khama’s behavior is of person who wants not to merely hurt, but to politically kill his victim.

The question is for how long will it stay like this?

There has to be a tipping point- whereupon Masisi will respond in kind.

And from the look of things that is not too far away.

But before he hits back, Masisi needs to do one thing; tell the nation what deals if any he had entered into with Ian Khama as part of succession.

Khama’s actions and behavior puts into doubt his stability.

Any deals if exposed would further cement questions over Khama’s mental stability.

Tragically, his actions do not only expose his instability, they also eat at the country’s social and political reputations.

His behavior sits ill with somebody who says he did not want to rule from the grave.

He is trying to clothe with some honour exactly what Joseph Kabila has been doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or what Paul Kagame did in Rwanda or worse the Burundi tragedy where people died because an insane leader simply refused to vacate office.

It is not yet clear what it is about Khama anybody would be nostalgic of.

He left us a legacy of corruption.

He killed institutions.

He drove away Botswana’s traditional friends because of his headless foreign policy.

He personalized state institutions and was forever surrounded by a gang of unaccountable criminals that looted state coffers.

It may be too early to say just how the tussle between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Khama will end, but there is no mistaking the damage it is doing to the Botswana Democratic Party and to the country.

In fact the impact of Khama’s actions to undermine institutions may likely be felt only after his target, Masisi, has long left office.

For all his big personality, the truth though is that Khama is swimming against a tide ÔÇô trying against all odds to beat what often looks like a force of nature; the BDP.

To complicate matters for himself, beyond removing Masisi from power, it is not clear just what Khama’s end game is.

Others close to him say all he wants is to extract from Masisi the concessions that were part of the alleged clutch of back-to-back deals entered into by the two men as part of the succession plan, on which Masisi is said to have since reneged.

Even if that were to be true, the recourse is counter-productive, not least because without saying what those undertakings are, tussle often resembles the fight over drug money.

Saying he is a man of principle who wants to merely get concessions due to him as some are saying is too charitable a view to a man who has caused so much public harm.

Where restraint would serve him and the country, this self-professed patriot dances to the goading he gets from his base that includes some bigoted members of parliament in the Central District who are resorting to identity politics to push their imaginary grievances.

As is the case with much of Africa, in Botswana tribalism is never too far away.

And in thinly veiled way, Khama is exploiting and stoking the fires of tribalism.

His backyard is the Central District Council, where he says he is the paramount chief.

I have always held a strong view that the Central District should be broken down, not least because of its big size that renders the whole thing administratively clumsy.

There are those saying Masisi should meet Khama to settle their differences.

There is no need for such a meeting.

A private meeting between the two as also called for by Khama should not be allowed, not least because Ian Khama has proved with time to be not only manipulative, but also a dishonest broker who uses blackmail as his weapon of choice.

Khama embodies the past, but then he refuses to be forgotten.

He likes to portray himself as a perennial victim because he is scared of being irrelevant.

The trouble is there are still people who take him at his word, including the media.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.