All things being equal, the presidency of the republic of Botswana post 2018 is in the hands of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. In fact, Vice President Masisi already has one foot inside the State House. He is the undisputed heir apparent, the president in-waiting. This is in accordance with the Botswana laws that prescribe automatic succession to the presidency. However, due to his arrogant ambition and his childish excitement, Vice President Masisi risks being the architect of his own downfall
We all are and need to be ambitious to achieve greatness or a semblance of it but wild ambition interspersed with juvenile excitement is dangerous and self-destructive. Ambition is certainly a necessary part of Vice President Masisi’s energy for politics and the presidency. Yet, ambition often begins from self-serving, pompous and despotic motive wherein the individual desires to conquer, charm, accumulate and ultimately leave a unique impression of himself on the world.
Vice President Masisi is reported to have at one point boastfully and emphatically declared that ‘kea se kotama’ [I am the next President of the Republic of Botswana]. This sort of public bragging places a huge burden on Vice President Masisi to ensure his ambition becomes a reality and this would inevitably mean that he would, if need be, cross all ethical lines and do things not by the book. His committal to succeed President Dr Khama in 2018; his public vow to take the reigns and of course his promise to Batswana for a better life after President Dr Khama means that he cannot afford to fail.
Thus, the fear of failure has an inward drive that could cause a good-hearted person like him to commit wrongs in an attempt to take control of and influence events and as well captivate his followers. The need to succeed and make good his dream derives from and also feeds into his desire to acquire fame and/or power and accumulate material things. Ultimately, wild ambition and excitement is bound to effectively ambush his conscience to a point where he would be prepared to do mean stunts and all things evil in order to realize his dream.
In effect, what it means is that Vice President Masisi would not hesitate to create for himself relevant and favourable circumstances to get what he want even if such circumstances are harmful to the nation. Ambition has all the ingredients to spur him to commit wicked deeds that could harm the nation but he most likely would care less about the side effects of his actions on the welfare of the nation because the ultimate prize is about him and himself only.
Essentially, Vice President Masisi’s wild ambitions to become the next president of the Republic of Botswana means that anything or anybody who attempts to stand on his way shall crashed brutally by force or by power. As a result, Vice President Masisi has become a dangerous opportunist, a greedy and power hungry tyrant who wants to influence the course of events for his personal gain.
Vice President Masisi’s ambition and excitement has actually spiralled out of control and is making him a typical politician who would do anything to conquer the nation and everything else in order to get his wish. Perhaps his addiction to ganster caps reveals his criminal-minded political ambition and also unmasks his overbearing wickedness ÔÇô the machinations of the devil in search of elusive fame.
Ambition is tempting and pretty good people are susceptible to temptation. When Vice President Masisi was first appointed as a government minister, he came with so much hope and promise. His demeanour and contributions in Parliament were a marvel earning him respect across the political divide to the point where our otherwise hard to please media branded him a new kid on the bloc; a rising star and a potential Vice President of the republic.
Fast forward to 2016 and you get confronted by a character with limitless delusions of grandeur. Perhaps it is true that upon filing for higher office politicians of all size and class promptly lose a considerable amount of their intelligence quotient and do irrational and stupid things for political gain. In the context of Vice President Masisi’s declaration to be the next president of the Republic of Botswana and his resolve not to let this chance slip away, politics has effectively become war in which Vice President Masisi and his foot soldiers consider themselves street wrestlers taking part in a game where the winner takes it all, with no combat rules whatsoever.
In The Prince, Machiavelli asserts that in war the ends justifies the means, further commenting that one ascends to the principality by some wicked or nefarious ways. Under these circumstances, politicking becomes a military battle with elections being viewed as an existential threat to one’s ambition. Vice President Masisi and his political warriors appear to be doing whatever it takes to succeed in ways that suggest that the dictum that elections are zero-sum game is irrefutable. They are willing and determined to use any trick that would help them have their man at the helm, be it unethical or out rightly illegal.
Vice President Masisi’s ambition to inherit the presidency and his resultant actions has effectively turned Botswana’s erstwhile tolerant politics into guerrilla politics where thugs and na├»ve operatives camouflaging as campaign strategists cause havoc by intimidating political opponents and threatening critiques with poverty. Vice President Masisi’s hefty ambitions make him think that it is glamorous to boast about his access to state resources and intelligence services.
This arrogant and boastful demeanour gives his doughboys and party musketeers free rein to do heinous things to ensure the Vice President eventually romps to victory. It is disheartening and frightening that a president in-waiting could glamourize thugs who not only get away with their evil deeds but get publicly applauded for their criminal exploits.
William Shakespeare’s plays especially Macbeth and Julius Caesar exquisitely play act the promise and perils of ambition which in most cases result in the demise of those who harbour it in excessive quantities. In the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Vice President Masisi is a towering genius who does not have to do mean stunts to showcase his abilities and power. He needs to remain calm, collected and disciplined to retain the necessary public good will. Thus, Vice President Masisi has a huge responsibility to rein in his ego for it is the worst enemy of good leaders.
When former President Festus Mogae ascended to the presidency following Q. K J. Masire’s retirement in 1998, such a rare opportunity did not excite him inordinately perhaps because of his colourful career as a civil servant and diplomat. Instead he remained grounded so much that he was labelled the reluctant president. He did not allow the occasion to go to his head and make him behalf like a first time druggie.
When it was time for Ian Khama to take over the baton, he too did not display the obvious elation of a school loafer who scooped an award against expectations. I wish Vice President Masisi could take a leaf from these former Vice Presidents and maintain a calm demeanour rather than behave like someone excited by a rare opportunity to loot. If his wry humour is worrisome, his excitement is scary, suicidal and belies his real motive.