Political analysts in Zimbabwe and Botswana said this week President Ian Khama’s credibility as the epitome of democracy is at stake as pressure mounts in his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for internal and constitutional reforms to curtail his excessive powers.
Analysts interviewed by the Sunday Standard said Khama has failed to transform from military leadership into a democratic leader who exhibits characteristics of statesmanship.
Trevor Maisiri, the Harare-based Executive Chairperson of the African Reform Institute, said Khama was no longer as critical of President Robert Mugabe as he once was mainly because he has lost the moral ground to criticise the octogenarian Zimbabwean leader.
“He comes from a military background and he is also accredited as one of the persons who were pivotal in the setting and strengthening of the military in Botswana,” he said. “However, what he seems faced with is the failure to smoothly transit from military leader into a democratic leader.”
Maisiri added: “Firstly, his party, the BDP, was faced with a greater need for internal reforms and this ranged from the party being able to constitutionally curtail presidential powers, the dictatorial tendencies of the President’s reign, the selectivity of justice, the need to enforce legislation for leaders to declare their assets, equitable distribution in public service appointments and other issues.”
Another analyst, Professor Kenneth Dipholo of the University of Botswana, concurred with Maisiri when he said President Khama could not point a finger at Mugabe on governance issues because of his own problems with democracy.
“It is true; we have our own problems and he has told himself to concentrate on these problems at home. It is better to keep quiet,” he said but pointing out that: “When you speak like that and say Mugabe this and that, people tell you that charity begins at home ÔÇô solve your problems first. This is partly why he now has a small voice. He cannot criticise Mugabe.”
After becoming president, Khama was one of Mugabe’s fiercest critics in Africa but has now apparently opted to keep quiet and leave it to Zimbabweans to solve their own problems.