Keiterile Phineas Maletsi – BDP activist
His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi is the fifth president of Botswana. His presidency for now to the next election in Botswana political lexicon is called the transition period, was poised from the onset to be treacherous and turbulent. The turbulence emanates from the simple fact that his predecessor was a strongman, to be euphemistically mild. Batswana lived under tyranny and dictatorship for the past decade wittingly and unwittingly. Any person with good intentions and noble aspirations for the nation and country who was to succeed Ian Khama was going to face the same trials and tribulations President Masisi is currently facing. The presidential handover was already a poisoned chalice. Therefore for any sane mortal to personalise the standoff between the former president and the incumbent as a fight between two megalomaniacs is just pandering to the whims of a despot of a bygone era trying to reclaim relevance. That individual is playing the devil’s advocate.
Khama is not fighting Masisi, he is fighting Botswana as a country and Batswana as a nation. Khama trying to undermine the President of Botswana is akin to him undermining our collective wisdom and insulting our collective intelligence. He patronises us and mistaken us for mental paraplegics. It is very unfortunate because Ian Khama served in that position and office. You will expect him to ideally know the reverence and dignity the office should be accorded more so that he was given the carte blanche, to do as he pleased during his tragic presidency. Ian Khama is on a massive crusade to test our resolve as a nation for our affinity and inclination to democracy. Our nationhood is under attack by buccaneers masquerading as patriots. Our sovereignty is under a total onslaught by mercenaries disguised as liberators. Botswana as we have come to know her is on auction, this time to the lowest bidder. At this juncture compatriots and patriots we have come to know our enemies. We now know our enemies by their names, by their skin hue, by their stature and by their sillhouttes. Ian Khama is their leader. Ian Khama wants to turn Botswana into a deep State. Wikipedia defines a deep state as a form of a clandestine government made up of hidden or covert networks of power operating independently of the state’s political leadership in pursuit of their own agenda and goals. This is what President Masisi is vehemently against to the extent of putting his life on the line. So for the apologists to trivialise the stand off as a BDP factional battle is very unfortunate and disheartening. Their rationale is that Ian Khama is a Frankenstein monster created at Tsholetsa House therefore Batswana mostly the opposition membership should be taken out of the brawl. There is somewhat truism in their reasoning but they are missing the important point. The important point is that Ian Khama is our former head of State. He presided over all Batswana regardless of their political affiliations. Directly and indirectly we all played a part in creating Ian Khama – the Frankenstein. His Gestapo ruling antics were felt by every Motswana regardless of party, tribal affiliations and creed. Those who claim ignorance of this are doing it for expediency. Even though Ian Khama might have been a creation of the ruling BDP party, his presidential exit was orchestrated in a concerted tapestry by every Motswana because a grave mistake was realised very late. The BDP and Batswana in general realised that we gave the wrong man a position of Honour whereas the man did not give the position the Honour it merited. Our former President and statesman Dr. Festus Gontebanye Mogae honestly and publicly accepted the grave mistake he made to bring Ian Khama into politics and making him his Vice President. He apologised profusely for the mistake to the nation. President Masisi, a statesman in the making also recently apologised to the nation and the opposition for amending the Presidential Retirement and Benefits Acts for the sole purpose of gratifying Khama. In our continent and the world it is a rarity for a leader to apologise for a transgression he committed. We still have leaders in our midst who have the humility to kneel down and proffer an apology. They do not subscribe to the notion of Comrade Napoleon is always right. The collective wisdom of our customs and traditions were exhumed and brought forth to help us navigate a dark period in the annals of the history of this great Republic. We are a great nation because we were in shoulders of giants in moulds of Sir Seretse Khama, Sir Ketumile Masire, Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete, Phillip Matante, Edison Setlhomo Masisi and other great men who followed them. We hoodwinked the man into believing that we will still be amenable and malleable to his sinister motives and machinations even after relinquishing power. We massaged his infantile ego by pampering him with gifts only the world can hold and showering him with superlative praises to put him into a lull of self assurance. Khama thought he had his ducks in row. This was done because we are a nation of wise people not buffoons as some people want to take us. It is this wisdom which gave birth to the infamous “Ke lelope” speech. This is what might be called Tswanacracy; democracy with the ideals and tenets of Setswana culture and traditions. These tenets are respect for authority and leadership even if we differ in ideology, looking up to the leadership to offer guidance and offering the leadership total support and goodwill. The realisation was that if we opposed Khama to extremes we would upset the applecart of our democracy, peace and the tranquillity we have come to be renowned of. A vehement antagonism to the Khama misrule would have changed the politics of our country for the worst. A change of the constitution to extend his stay in power would have ensued. Elections, through the help of Electronic Voting Machines would just be a formality. The sanctity of the universal suffrage would not hold sway. Tyranny to any dissenting voice would have been the order of the day through the then DISS. His kleptocracy would have gone sky high. Botswana now would be a pariah state. Botswana would be a banana republic where the law of the jungle rule supreme. This would have been easily achieved because Khama had usurped the legislative prerogative of our parliament. The Legislature became the lapdog of the Executive. This would have been achieved through intimidation, torture and killings. Khama did not want to leave the power of State presidency, that can now be said with a bit of hindsight . He reluctantly left only if certain conditionalities were met. The conditionalities were not for the good of this country but for the obliteration of all the good things we have worked hard for as a nation.
Having seen the sunset of Khama’s presidency one started to have renewed hope and zeal for life. We knew that his post presidential antics if any can be contained. The man will be isolated and can never be given a chance to come back to haunt us as a nation. Little did we know that the opposition which were purported fierce Khama critics during his presidency will lend him credence and a second bite of the cherry. We thought the opposition most especially the main opposition party the UDC would stand up and claim their rightful position in defending our sovereignty and republicanism when Khama rubbished all the good our country represents and epitomises in foreign media. We thought the opposition would speak with moral authority when Khama is dividing the nation through fanning the flames of tribalism and regionalism. There was conspicuous silence from their quarters. In fact their leader Comrade Duma Boko also when on a tirade, emulating Ian Khama went tangential and attacked our sovereignty and republicanism in foreign Media. If Boko knew foreign media helps, it was Ian Khama who should have been attacked and vilified in such a platform. The UDC under the leadership of Duma Boko has lost moral rectitude. They are devoid of truth and honesty. To the opposition it was still a personal fight of President Masisi and Ian Khama. To the UDC it was still a factional battle of the BDP. If the BDP created a Demigod in Khama the UDC wants to create a Godfather in him by forming a political pact of convenience as it is stands.The Demigod the BDP created no longer has the omnipotence he once possessed that is why he ended up leaving the sanctuary. He looked for a place of abode and he found a palatial paradise in the UDC nest. The UDC wants to offer Ian Khama what the ruling BDP cannot offer him and has now made it succintly clear that the time of red carpet treatment has come to an abrupt halt. The BDP has refused to grant Khama the status of political kingmaker or the Godfather of Botswana politics. If ever the opposition ultimately assumes state power with the help of Ian Khama, it would have created a bad precedent of granting ‘Emperor’ Khama the status he has been longing for. His grand plan of twenty years in the presidium would have come to fruition. The Khama Legacy Project (TKLP) would have taken root and this would be the beginning of the mighty fall of Botswana. Economic development of the country would take a back seat and everything would be done to aggrandise and ingratiate him. Anything on the contrary would see the repeat of what is currently going on in the country. The running of the country would be done from world cities. The running of our country and the decision which impact on our lives would be made from Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, London , Washington DC and New York. It would be a chain reaction until eternity. This would be a total digression to what the pioneers of this great nation and republic envisioned.
This republic was created to offer its citizens inspiration to attain their social, political and economic actualisation without any form of gate-keeping. This is what President Masisi has been at the forefront preaching since his ascension to the office of the President. He has been the bastion and vanguard of our sovereignty and republicanism. The opposition has decided to take the route of populism and expediency. They have lost relevance and are oblivious of the contemporary issues bedeviling the nation. They are detached and oblivious of the voiceless clarion call because they are living in ivory towers bereft of reality. Therefore voting for the opposition this time around will be tantamount to casting your proverbial pearls to swines. This should not be misconstrued to mean opposition members are swines, it is just an analogy. Yours truly is a staunch proponent of political tolerance.
Batswana, we have a gem in President Masisi, if we cannot see, it is because we are blind. If President Masisi is imperfect, it is because we are judging him from the point of imperfection because we are probably an in imperfect society. If truly we are an imperfect society President Masisi would be our perfect imperfection.
The world media hold him in high esteem. The world think tanks are in awe of his sharp intellect and humility. Botswana is now taking it rightful position in the community of the global village. The world is awaiting the Masisi led Botswana to lead in flora and fauna conservation. The global village is awaiting Botswana to lecture it in Diplomacy the Setswana way. The world is awaiting the Masisi led Botswana to unravel Tswanacracy to it.
This year is not the time for electioneering and sloganeering. It is the time to reclaim our motherland by voting the Masisi led BDP in large numbers. Our placentas and umbilical chords nourish the reddish-brown soils of the Kalahari desert.This is in itself is a blood covenant we have with this country. It is a divine attachment and relationship the Almighty chose to put it before everyone of us who is bonafide to be called a Motswana. It comes with a heavy burden and dire consequences if we take it lightly. It is the time to renew our vows for our sovereignty and republicanism. Electioneering and sloganeering will be in 2024. This is the time for us to toyi-toyi and sing liberation songs (Mzabalazo or Chimurenga) against the Khama- Boko neo colonialism. Let President Masisi usher Botswana into the second republic. The first republic was the attainment of political independence, nation building and the entrenchment of our democratic institutions. The second republic will be premised on economic freedom and independence. Masisi holds the key to the Botswana dream.
Keiterile Phineas Maletsi is a BDP activist and commentator on political, social and economic issues.