In chilling revelations, a new book by Reverend Enole Ditsheko quotes the late former president Masire, narrating Ian Khama’s exceeding ambitions for power at a young age. Futhermore, Masire says Ian’s father, Sir Seretse Khama compared his eldest son to Uganda’s Idi Amin for his predisposition to mount a military coup from the barracks if he was not made vice president so as to eventually become the President. LETLHOGILE MPUANG reports
On 13 July 1980, the Republic of Botswana mourned the passing of the country’s founding President Sir Seretse Khama. He had died of pancreatic cancer at age 59. Seretse Khama was hugely credited for transforming the country after inheriting it from Britian as an impoverished and internationally obscure state. He turned Botswana into an increasingly democratic and prosperous country with a significant role in southern Africa. It was under his rule that between 1966 and 1980, Botswana was one the fastest growing economies in the world.
However, according to new revelations, while lying on his deathbed Seretse burdened his then deputy, the late Sir Ketumile Masire, with certain orders that involved both his son Ian Khama and Botswana’s former vice president Mompati Merafhe. These orders would go on to shape the future of this country.
These revelations emerge from a conversation between former president Masire and multiple award-winning author, Reverend Enole Ditsheko, on 9 June 2016. The chat between this two is recorded in Ditsheko’s controversial new book, “Wrestling Botswana Back From Khama.”
“In hindsight, I take the blame. I can’t be innocent in this whole farce we now call Botswana. But as you, the men of the cloth teach us that the truth does set us free I am declaring to you the truth and nothing else,” Masire starts the conversation.
“On his deathbed, Sir Seretse Khama summoned me for a tête-à-tête. There, I was clutching his hand tightly into mine. I can still feel its coldness now. He asked: ‘Quett, make sure the deal with Merafhe to pave way for my son to take over the reins of the army is realised.’ I was dazed. I was not part of the deal in the beginning, but there I was, now an important executor of that plan.”
Masire in the chat said Seretse Khama feared his son Ian’s ambitions and that if he was not to be elevated to the highest office, he was very capable of a military coup. Ian was in 2008 inaugurated as the country’s fourth president.
“Rre Seretse said to me: ‘I sent my son to Sandhurst Military Academy. They train their products everything and anything in between that is military. Their graduates have risen to the top to become national leaders.’ I could not let my boss finish what I understood him to be proposing,” Masire said to Rev. Ditsheko.
“Are you asking me to make way for your son to succeed you?,” Masire asked.
“No, that is not what I am saying, Quett. Look at Africa and tell me what do you see? Uganda, they have had General Idi Amin, and he rose to power because of a coup. In Nigeria, it was Major Chukwuna Nzeogwu and thereafter it’s been military dictatorship (one) generation after another. What about Libya, Quett? Do you see the picture?
I would not like Botswana to go down that pathway and especially at the hands of my own blood. I am a democrat. This is what has kept us together, isnt’t it?,” Seretse answered Masire.
“Did I betray the nation? Maybe I am the traitor. Infact, I’ve been referred to as one as more and more pains have been befalling the nation. Few have had the courage to hint I was at fault because I engineered for Ian to leave the barracks to join politics,” admits the former late president who before his passing was a firm critic of Ian Khama’s style of rule.
In the book Masire is said to have held the view that Ian set up the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) as a rogue agency to steal from the public.
Even so, Ian Khama last month told a Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) rally in Mahalapye that he never had any political ambitions but was dragged into politics to save an ailing BDP in 1998, former cabinet minister David Magang drew Ditsheko’s attention to a conversation he had with former vice president Lenyeletse Seretse.
“For whatsoever reasons, he wants to be viewed as the messiah of the party,” Magang told Ditsheko. “It is in my book. The Americans knew as way back as 1983 that he would inherit the presidency on his 30th birthday. I am one of those who got told this by his late uncle. Lenyeletse said to me: “This very chair you are on, Ian was sitting here yesterday. His mother was sitting on this one. I was telling them that I felt gravely ill and as an elder, I should relinquish my vice presidential position and head out to the village so I can wait and die with my people surrounding me, not here in the capital,” said Magang
“They refused. Ian said to me that he was still in the army and if I resigned, he would be forced to resign, but that he could volunteer to do so only if he inherited the vice presidency from me.”
Magang further recalled: “Ian put the question before his uncle that: ‘If you step down from this position, who will represent the Khama family?’ I explained to Ian that I started off as a backbencher, became the assistant minister and a full minister before I was the vice president. My nephew refused to hear any of this and said as a compromise, he would join politics as a senior minister. He was startled that I did not seem to care to protect the Khama family interests.”
President Mokgweetsi Masisi is also recorded in this very book that he turned down Ian Khama’s request of promoting his younger brother Tshekedi Khama to the vice presidency. He viewed Tshekedi as “someone who was not fit to be vice president”.
in June this year, DISS director general Peter Magosi confirmed the appetite for a coup against Masisi. Media reports have linked these failed coup attempts to Ian Khama and some of his associates but Ian has denied the allegations.