Many in opposition, even within the BDP, will say he is a populist. Usually they mean he does things for the sake of winning votes - that whatever he does is motivated by the desire to win votes and not by a genuine inborn feeling to help. Calling him a populist appears wrong though: for starters, a populist would have increased salaries for workers when they demanded he does or else face regime change. But no, he did not, rather he even told them they could strike for the next so many years but if there is no money he cannot do anything. I am not too concerned about whether it was a bad or good thing to do/say; my point here is that a populist would not readily behave in that manner.
Next, he decides to free those convicted of the killing of John Kalafatis, a move he must have also known will be unpopular. But he does it anyway because he believes it is the right thing to do.
Events in the past week though proved to be the most interesting. After a well publicized fallout between government and Bakgatla tribal leadership he decided to go to the heart of Kgatleng. President Khama addressed people at several locations and ended at the Mochudi Kgotla. There, in that Kgotla, he spoke in words but also made a statement in between. The unsaid statement is that he remains the sovereign of this nation and will go anywhere he wishes to go. That is bravery at its best.
Previously, those who sympathized with Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela made us believe spears will be drawn out should the President visit. But no, he came, he saw and he conquered! Or did he? He spoke without flinching, he spoke without a suggestion of fear and his Setswana was even better than on most other days.
The issues between Government and Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela he did not skirt either. He simply told those present that people make mistakes and he has been quiet hoping that Bakgatla elders and other authorities would guide Kgosi kgolo when he does wrong but to no avail. He said he also makes mistakes and others do tell him when he does. Saying this simply told those in there that he was not there to mince words and play PR.
What more, he had the nerve to tell Bakgatla he will do what he believes is in the best interests of the nation regardless of votes. Clear and crisp he said it that he will continue his crusade against alcohol abuse as it threatens to rob this country of its productive work force and families of care takers. Whether this would cost him votes or not is immaterial according to him.
His level of honesty and non pretentious nature at that Kgotla must have even made his audience realize he was there as their sovereign. That he did not come to seek forgiveness, rather, he came in to tell them what he wanted to tell them and he would tell it as he sees it. This boldness coupled with honesty has a way of disarming even your greatest of critics. His honesty remains a tie that binds him to those he deals with, at least those who do not see his occupation of the seat as an inconvenience to their own aspirations. We can have this debate some other day but you have never had a more honest President than this one. Presidential historians will write about him many years after he is gone, when most will start appreciating him more than they do now. He is a man of remarkably honest ways in his dealings with citizens of this country.