It took a public tiff with Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse for outgoing President Ian Khama to own up to his ‘military man’ leadership style which has been the subject of much debate and speculation during his tenure. His critiques often argued that his military background made him authoritarian and intolerant to criticism.
When Keorapetse called Khama out for “never setting foot” in the mining town ever since the closure of the BCL mine which left over 5000 miners jobless, he touched a nerve which many people, in or out of government, had never so publicly touched; straight talking an ex-military commander who allegedly never takes no for an answer or never accepts being talked down on.
“Keorapetse is attacking me but normally as a soldier when an enemy attacks, you return fire. Keorapetse has to understand that it is not my responsibility alone to assist those affected. Those who accuse me of failing the ex-miners are those who are not working cooperatively with the government. Since I have tried my level best in assisting those in need what have my critics done?” shot back Khama.
To up the ante, Khama said he expected Keorapetse to come to him to discuss how the Selibe Phikwe ex-miners could be assisted. “There is no point of accusing me of staying 17 months without visiting Selibe-Phikwe while he has never approached me or visited my office in 40 months of his tenure as an MP,” Khama continued to hit back.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette and Gabz FM, Keorapetse quashed Khama’s comments saying the biggest problem was that the outgoing president never attended parliament and that it was not a requirement of parliament for him to go to Khama’s office. Keorapetse argued that the quality of his work is reflected in the question and motions he put before parliament.
Much was made of Khama’s failure to visit and address ex BCL miners, with some people saying it did not only show poor leadership but that the president did not care about the fate of the miners.