- We were not involved in his trip to the Dalai Lama-South Africa
- Khama thanks SA but SA denies giving him protocol
- Khama says he now fears for his life
The South African High Commission in Gaborone has distanced their country from the former president Ian Khama and Botswana Government’s troubles that took place on the eve of Khama’s visit to the 60th National Uprising Day by the Central Tibetan Administration in India.
Khama, last week, thanked the South African Government for availing him with protocol when all of Botswana’s diplomatic missions abroad were ordered not to do so. Asked to share their side of the story on the dispute, the High Commission said it “wishes to put it on record that it was not involved in former President Ian Khama’s travel to India.”
Bulelwa Kiva, Minister Plenipotentiary of South African High Commission said OR Tambo International Airport is used for all public arrivals, departures and transits, further adding that it is therefore, a common international standard and practice that dignitaries are afforded courtesies while at airports located in South Africa.
Asked whether they were aware that Khama was advised by the government against going to India to meet the Dalai Lama and on whether did they not see facilitating his travel as condoning or supporting his cause and going against the wishes of Botswana government, South African High Commission said they “had no discussions with both the Government of Botswana and former President Ian Khama on the matter”.
Protocol holds that heads and former heads of state take precedence over all other officials, and that heads of state rank in the order that they took office.
Khama was invited by the Dalai Lama’s organization as a chief guest for their March 10, 60th anniversary of an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. The Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) had written to him ‘saying because of the “One-China policy which actually refers more to Taiwan than to Tibet, the government policy is to stick to that line, that government would not take any part in funding that trip”. Khama explained that he was challenging government’s decision because in the Constitution he is entitled to four trips in a year. The constitution does not make such provision.
But Khama posited that there are no conditions attached to his international trip entitlements, further saying he can go where he wants, meet who he wants. The trip did not only land him in trouble, but has since extended to include those who accompanied him-three members of the protection unit who are said to have defied the employer’s order to accompany Khama.
The trio is facing disciplinary action and is likely to be recalled from the former president’s office for redeployment, according to sources. Khama has reacted angrily to the development and has cited the calamity that befell Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa during a campaign rally last year as a classic example of what might happen to him.
“During a campaign rally last year, two body guards of Zimbabwean president Mnangagwa died from injuries sustained from putting their own bodies over his when a blast went off at the white city stadium in Bulawayo,” wrote an angry Khama who further labeled the tiff as “madness.”
The revelation by Khama suggests that the former army commander now fears for his life and that he cannot do without his full entourage of bodyguards.