In 2017, amid accusations of reluctance to depart leveled against former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, former president Ian Khama jumped on the bandwagon and penned an open letter to him (Mugabe) imploring him to sacrifice his ‘selfish’ ideals to the benefit of Zimbabwe for “unity, peace and prosperity”, reminisces TEFO PHEAGE.
“I therefore reiterate my appeal to you to honorably step aside, if you really care for them, as you profess, and if you cannot find it in you to do so, then as a Christian do so in the spirit of our Lord in order to usher in a new period going forward of unity, peace and prosperity of Zimbabweans,” Khama wrote.
In less than a year since his departure, his successor, the new president, Mokgweetsi Masisi is a troubled man and ascribes his woes to Khama whom he accuses of fighting by all means to have him removed.
In his latest reasoning, the former president attributes his agitation to the refusal by Masisi to appoint his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama as his successor.
One may argue the brouhaha is obviously self-seeking for Khama, whose contention emanates from a selfish obsession for continuous rule and simply has nothing to do with the interest of the nation.
News coming in is that the heads of missions, currently headed by Russia have made an inquiry to the government of Botswana on the standoff.
More disturbing is that the turmoil presents a significant threat to Botswana’s positive reputation which the country’s forefathers have all fought so hard for. Botswana is an unknown player in the global space and her only claim to fame has been its political stability, peace and tranquility, and diamonds.
The nation is already bearing the brunt of the Khama-Masisi fracas. Apart from a president who obviously spends sleepless nights and a ruling party in a dilemma, Botswana ‘s sanctified international tag and the oft-used moniker, “the African Miracle” is under attack because of a former president who does not want to stop his political activity.
A browse through international news outlets shows that the international media has caught wind of the dispute and have started feeding on it.
In his desperate attempt to discredit the president, Khama has turned to his sworn enemies-the private media- to advance his cause. Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson Mboki Chilisa says Khama should not be misled that the media appreciates or likes him owing to his protracted hostility towards them during his term. “It may just be that the media is using him for sales, but we haven’t forgotten and we will never,” he said.
His words are echoed by the Media workers union, secretary general Victor Baatweng who says ,“it was under Khama’s regime where the country witnessed perpetual harassment of journalists and mass retrenchment of media workers.” He adds that the media’s coverage of him is solely premised on the fact that he is a former president and therefore newsworthy.
Without a doubt, Khama is still newsworthy. In fact more newsworthy than Masisi who still has a year to shed his vice-president skin and allow for continued growth. He is not alone, the Zimbabwean or South African media are still obsessed with past leaders who recently left office.
It is not only the media, public service unions who posit that Khama was the worst leader the country has ever had. The opposition coalition, Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) says it is true that the former president is interfering in his successor’s job but who cares, “they made their bed.”
“The writing is on the wall. We have struggled for the years to show people what type of a leader Khama is. But we have equally warned people that the BDP is a mafia-style party run by Mafias with selfish interests. The deal entered into by Masisi and Khama over such a position is not different from the deals entered into by all their predecessors. It’s not about people but their families,” UDC’s Moeti Mohwasa said.
Was Masisi wrong to snub Khama on TK- if at all?
Khama is accusing Masisi of using lies as a foundation for a strategic political maneuver. Bluntly put, Masisi fooled Khama into believing that he will appoint his brother but later somersaulted and reasserted his own power.
The Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli left a Machiavellianism political theory that any means can be used if it is necessary to maintain power. There are so many theories, some shocking about how Khama got the to the highest office in 2008.
Khama is a political novice and he should know by now that Politicians do not have a truth-telling track record. It has now come to be a universal truth that politicians lie all the time. They lie and manipulate for a desired purpose-it is an integral part of the game. In an interview with one of the newspapers Khama says he had some reservations to fight from his brother’s corner at a critical time, a statement that suggests that Khama knows it is not a virtuous move in a country that is not a dynasty. The presidency is already crawling with tribal politics.
Can anyone blame Masisi? Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher who is a central figure in modern philosophy in his book “Contemporary Moral Problem” believes that our moral duty can be formulated in one supreme rule, the categorical imperative, from which all our duties can be derived. He arrives at the supreme rule or rules by considering the nature of good will and duty. “The end justifies the means.”
He is not alone, most Muslims are familiar with the principles of Islam that will justify lying in situations where they sense the need to do so. These principles are derived from passages found in the Quran and the Hadith and are classified in three; War is deception, the necessities justify the forbidden, If faced by two evils, choose the lesser of the two.
“In conclusion, it is imperative to understand, that Muslim leaders can use this loop-hole in their religion, to absolve them from any permanent commitment. It is also important to know that what Muslim activists say to spread Islam may not always be the whole truth. When dealing with Muslims, what they say is not the issue. The real issue is, what they actually mean in their hearts.”
These examples demonstrate that lying is a common policy amongst Islamic clerics and statesmen. Clearly politics is still ‘a dirty game’ and has not gotten tidier just because Khama has left.
In his days, Khama was a very powerful figure. Armed with a loose constitution-widely open for molestation and a scaremongering spy unit that spared nobody including Ministers, no one ould say no to him except through the courts as shown through many different cases including the election of the National Assembly Speaker by show of hands in 2014.
This year, the former minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang has revealed to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee that members of the executive fear the intelligence organ of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).
A senior member of Cabinet who prefers anonymity says Masisi, “is the Robin Hood of our times.” Robin Hood is a legendary, heroic outlaw originally depicted in English folklore who is said to have stolen from the rich and gave to the poor.
He says Khama should focus on and expand his love for the peasants as that is where he seems to be doing well. “He must rest and do what former presidents do. He has ran his race,”concluded the senior cabinet member.