Whatever lies between the two men, including what may not be in the public domain, any attempt at reconciliation will have to entail some give and take.
Once again, talks about President Mokgweetsi Masisi reconciling with his predecessor Ian Khama have emerged, thanks to Masisi’s remarks over the past weekend that he still wishes to reconcile with Khama.
The Botswana Gazette highlights some of the key contentious issues troubling repeated efforts for a ceasefire.
Masisi wants Khama out of active politics
According to Masisi’s handlers, so long as Khama remains politically active, efforts to reconcile will always remain a pipe dream. Khama is the patron of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and as an active politician, he enjoys certain privileges to attack his political enemies. Armed with his status, aura and influence, he remains a serious threat to Masisi’s presidency and social standing. Khama, however, has been reluctant to give in to this demand or expectation, according insiders. He is on record saying he will only rest once he has unseated Masisi and his party from power.
Khama should return to BDP
Another condition on the table, according to insiders, is for Khama to remain politically active but in the same political home as Masisi. This means that Khama will have to dump his brainchild, the BPF, and retrace his steps to the Botswana Democratic Party, which he has declared dead and buried since 2019. Khama was the first-ever former president of Botswana to remain politically active and to join the opposition after retirement. It is not yet known what Khama thinks of this proposal.
Cessation of international media interviews
This publication understands that another contentious issue is Khama’s international media interviews which he has been using to advance his cause against the Masisi administration. Many of these interviews have portrayed Masisi as a dictator who has ruined Botswana’s reputation as a democracy. As a result, Masisi has obviously had to do some explaining here and there to clear his name. Khama has said that he is granting the interviews to seek international support and to protect himself against Masisi’s “harassment and abuse”.
Masisi wants respect and recognition from Khama
We have established that another area of concern for Masisi is for Khama to respect his office and accept that he is now the one at the helm. Masisi has alluded to this in many different public platforms. But Khama feels the same way about the manner in which he is being treated by the Masisi administration. He remains accused of being an accomplice in a long alleged P100 billion theft from the Bank of Botswana, a claim long dismissed by the central bank itself.
High Court cases against Khama may have to fall
The reason Khama has fled to South Africa was to escape what he describes as “abuse and harassment” by the Masisi administration. According to him, his family has had to flee Botswana to escape ceaseless searches and “trumped up” charges. His family and associates are currently fighting corruption and criminal charges. Khama is highly likely to raise this concern as requested for the withdrawal of the cases as one of the conditions for reconciliation.
Asked to respond to these and share what his conditions for reconciliation are, Khama stated: “This may not be the right time to respond. I don’t even think conditions are the best way to conduct reconciliation. Conditions ruin everything but genuine and truthful engagement is the best way to reconcile. I can’t say what I think of those conditions which you have outlined because they have not yet been put before me. I will discuss them when the time is right.”