Wednesday, July 6, 2022

We should pray for Khama’s successor, only God can help

It is perhaps a sign of the changing times that even some of the party faithful have now started to talk of a life after Khama.

Reluctantly questions are being asked as to who is likely to fill the big man’s shoes.

This unusual eagerness to engage with a topic which, until recently, was out of bounds is most likely a result of recent interviews the President gave wherein he said he did not have a succession plan and that he will never serve beyond 2018.

Not surprisingly, a statement that he does not have a succession plan has disappointed some people within the party. There has always been an assumption that the president had all his ducks in a row.
We now hear all sorts of fancy names being mentioned about; there is that section that has hoisted their mast around Ndelu Seretse, others talk of Kitso Mokaila while those still languishing in the factional hangover from yesteryear refer to somebody called Jacob Nkate.

And, surprise, surprise – the more delusional ones among them are advising us not to rule Moyo Guma out. Whoever ultimately gets the job should at this stage be left to those with power to influence events.

For us the outsiders, it is simply too early to concern ourselves with who that person will be.
All we can do for now is offer our sympathies to them and warn them of the near insurmountable task they will inherit when that time comes.

They will inherit a country in a state of a royal mess.

Only Ian Khama can preside over the current state of decay and still emerge as popular as is currently the case with our President.

Whoever it is, Khama’s successor will need our sympathy.

He, for it is very unlikely to be a woman, will have a hard act to follow.
The peace that is currently holding inside the BDP is in every sense a negotiated peace.

Because it owes its being to Khama’s strong will and determination, that truce is very unlikely to outlast his stay in office.

And, we might also add, the BDP will never be able to produce another Ian Khama.

Asking them to do so would be akin to expecting South Africa to produce yet another Nelson Mandela. It simply will not happen.

President Khama, it has to be said, has been defiantly different from a party he has dominated for the last fifteen years and led and despised for the last five.

While the party has in many ways been weakening, the president’s personal brand has, on the other side, been growing steadfastly.

While the party has often come across as unsure of itself, President Khama has in a very strange way been a politician of conviction. Rather than it being him feeding off the party, it has been the other way round.

Buried deep in his soul has been a paradoxical dislike for anything he has even vaguely interpreted as political, hence his barely disguised contempt for his even own party.

Other commentators have called him a reluctant President, and not without reason.
Where politics cultivates consensus, from day one he set out to spurn all forms of consensus building.

Where politics has called for caution, restraint and calculation, from early on he made it clear that he was going to be a bohemian president.

Where politics called for tolerance of alternative views, including from opposition ranks, his instincts have been to decimate all kinds of dissent including by unleashing an army of hangers-on that used ill-begotten money to buy members of opposition to join his party ranks.

He brought into politics a certain amount of crudeness or at any rate divisiveness, cunning and heartlessness that had hitherto been unheard of.

As a president, he favoured a big bang approach which always left opponents ÔÇô both inside and outside his party not only surprised but disoriented too.

The recent BDP behavior in Letlhakeng West is a case in point. The other one has been his unpardonably lenient behavior towards security agents that killed John Kalafatis.

Personally, I am still to know what Khama’s big economic idea has been since he came into power other than his base and clearly xenophobic instincts to deport and deny entry into the country the multitudes of foreign nationals whose skills this country needs so badly.

The net effects of his bundling and ultimate ham-fisted handling of the country’s energy needs will stay with us long after he has left the political stage.

Yet notwithstanding his mistakes as a country we continue to smile upon his mistakes.

Given his popularity ratings, which we are told hover somewhere near the 90 percent mark, President Khama must be the only President to be so much more successful, and indeed more popular than the country and political party he leads.

Unless something drastic happens, a dysfunctional education system and a dilapidated public health sector will be key components of his enduring legacy.

An executive-minded judiciary suffering from acute public trust deficit will haunt us long after Khama has left.

A dejected and demoralized public service is an institution he will bequeath his successor.
A weaker ruling party, which is united mechanically and only so because it is scared of the leader, can hardly be a source of envy.

He has dismantled all pretences of oversight that were created by founding fathers and surrounded himself with faceless and unaccountable sidekicks of whom the entire official public service is scared.

He allowed his intelligence operatives to become demigods, against whom not even parliament could call on to account for their actions, least of all the money appropriated to them.

During his presidency, he has shouted loudest at all acts of human rights violation abroad while doing pretty nothing at home to inspire confidence that he cared for the same.

He is the only President we have known of who during his time the brand of the party and country he led diminished while his grew from strength to strength.
In every sense of the word, the last fifteen years have truly been the Khama years.
But, like Jesus Christ, everywhere he goes people line up if only to touch his feet, as was so evidently the case when he addressed a meeting somewhere in Kgatleng during the week.

For better or for worse, never before in our recent history have we had one man dominate every sphere of our national life such as has been the case with Ian Khama.

The party or that part of it that expected better is right to be ill at ease with the President’s statement that he does not as yet have a succession plan.

Such a statement portends post-Khama chaos.

But then the impending avalanche is something that not even he could stop.

Which is why instead of people dying to know who will replace Khama, we should instead kneel down to pray that the Lord may have mercy on the successor, because big, difficult and messy scenes await them, whoever they will turn out to be.


Read this week's paper