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Elders Council summon Khama, Masisi

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TEFO PHEAGE

• Masisi, Khama to answer for bringing the party, govt into disrepute

• Blames the media for ‘ululations’, entertaining Khama who he says is out of order

• Khama in 2011 rejected Masire, Mogae’s intervention in the civil service strike

The Botswana Democratic Party Council of elders, comprising of esteemed senior members of the party is set to summon the President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the former president Ian Khama to a meeting over their deteriorating relationship and address the concerns of bringing the party and government into disrepute.

The Council’s Vice Chairperson David Magang has confirmed the intended meeting. Magang  reveals that, “like anybody else we are concerned and there have been murmurs within the council to summon the president and former president over these concerns but there is nothing much to share at this point,” he said in an interview with this publication.

The council of elders committee is made up of party veterans such as David Magang, Patrick Balopi, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe among others. A highly placed source revealed that former president Festus Mogae and former vice president Ponatshego Kedikilwe are expected to be included in the much- anticipated engagement.

According to the BDP constitution, the mandate of the Council is to investigate, arbitrate and reconcile differences and disputes where necessary within party structures and members. It is not yet clear whether the Central Committee forwarded their concerns to the party’s elders, to act upon.

When asked on the Central Committee’s position on the matter, Balopi was reluctant to reveal details. “We are a party that respects its elders and veterans. Of course, we are concerned about the matter but we are not ready to divulge what we are doing or what we are going to do about the matter, but something will be done if there is a need and at the right time,” he said.

It is still unknown whether Khama, a known disciplinarian will heed the call for mediation. In 2011, he rejected the former presidents, Festus Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire’s intervention to mediate over the civil service strike that had paralyzed the country and state apparatus.

Magang told this publication that “never in the history of Botswana has the president retired with his benefits and pension and still want to come back as Khama is doing’” and heaped part of the blame on the private media for entertaining Khama’s antics. Khama, a long-time adversary of the private media has run to the private media for coverage in his crusade to discredit Masisi and air his grievances which are not in sync with the state media editorial policy.

“The country belongs to you the media as well and you must play an active role in uniting this beautiful country and you must equally be able to discern wrong doing. In most of your headlines and wording I normally see a bit of recklessness with words and misrepresentations like Masisi humiliates Khama instead of – denies Khama. You cannot humiliate somebody over something that they are not entitled to,” advised Magang who was of the view that Khama is out of order.

Magang  points out that elders’ “main concern is that the fallout and public spat is bad for the party and the government.” For the past four months, Khama and Masisi have been at each other ‘s throat over the former’s benefits and entitlements. Masisi’s office has moved swiftly to curtail and arrest Khama’s wasteful and extravagant lifestyle. In a recent interview the Permanent Secretary to the President informed the nation that Khama must know that he is not a priority to the government and must know his entitlements.

The former president has so far been denied flying army aircraft and obtaining “lifts” in parastatal aircraft without following proper protocol. Khama claims that he has also been denied coverage by state media and that his preferred Private Secretary- Isaac Kgosi who is implicated in corruption cases, was denied to him. Kgosi was fired recently by Masisi and has been replaced by Brigadier Peter Magosi who was forced to retire from his Military Intelligence post by Khama.

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