Mmegi Online :: Paranoia and anxiety rules Khama’s world?
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Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
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Paranoia and anxiety rules Khama’s world?

There is no doubt that President Ian Khama is a man under stress and possibly suffers from acute paranoia. His demeanor during the inauguration ceremony said it all. Mmegi Staff Writers THALEFANG CHARLES and NTIBINYANE NTIBINYANE go behind the scenes to unearth reasons behind Khama’s apprehension and actions
By Thalefang Charles 2013-10-04 10:30:56 php85F6.tmp.jpg Fri 31 Oct 2014, 15:47 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Paranoia and anxiety rules Khama’s world?








The short-lived standoff between Khama and Parliament was primarily caused by the president’s paranoia and acute state of insecurity, highly placed sources within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have revealed.

At the centre of Khama’s decision to go to court over amendments to Parliament’s Standing Orders that allow for the secret ballot in election of the vice president is overwhelming fear that BDP MPs were not going to endorse his preferred choice.

The President was shaken and deeply worried whether his new crop of legislators will sing the master’s chorus and rubber stamp his choice of number two without hesitation. Perhaps the paranoia played itself out during a BDP caucus on Monday and later on Wednesday. Sources say that during the Monday caucus, the apprehensive Khama is alleged to have said that he is considering three people for the of post vice president. The President is alleged to have refused to reveal the names to the caucus but tested the waters on the allegiance of his MPs by asking them through secret nominations to name their preferred vice president. Sources reveal the 37 MPs came up with seven names. Khama did not reveal the names of the seven to the surprise of the BDP caucus. 

“He told us that he is yet to decide on who should be his vice, but stressed that he will be making an announcement very soon,” said a source in the party.

Unlike his predecessor, Festus Mogae who made it publicly known that he was going to pick Khama as his VP, the President has not announced his choice a week after general elections. In 1999, Mogae was explicit in his intention to have Khama as his VP. At one time, he threatened MPs with dissolution of Parliament should they refuse to endorse his preferred successor.

Khama on the other hand appeared to lack the guts and command to issue such threats to most of the rookie MPs that form BDP ranks in Parliament. It is said that he only told them that he has seen their wish list and he will decide on his choice and expect their support.

But what could have rattled Khama so bad that it even marred his very last inauguration? Speculation is rife in the BDP that Khama does not trust Samson Moyo Guma. There are talks in BDP circles that Guma has enough MPs to scuttle Khama’s succession plans. Surprisingly Guma is regarded to be one of the President’s men because of his close relationship with Thapelo Olopeng, Khama’s closest confidant. But it appears Khama’s intelligence has gathered that Guma may be plotting something.

There is also speculation that Khama want’s his brother and cabinet minister, Tshekedi Khama for vice president. Political commentators say Tshekedi and Olopeng are the only vice presidential choices that could worry Khama so bad because they would not have the blessings of many MPs. Others speculate that Nonofo Molefhi and Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi are the safest choices that would receive full backing from the BDP. 

The moody President

Khama’s demeanor during his inauguration ceremony, a day after the BDP caucus said it all. When he stepped on the podium to be sworn in by Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo as the President of Botswana, he appeared more worried than ever before. He seemed apprehensive and unsettled.

Only three people know how it feels like to step up and raise your right hand and take the oath for the highest office in Botswana. It is Sir Ketumile Masire, who first took the oath under the cloud of mourning following the death of Sir Seretse Khama. Festus Mogae was sworn in, in happier times after Masire retired in 1998. Ten years later, Khama took the oath to succeed Mogae in another celebratory ocassion. His second oathing after the 2009 polls was even more euphoric. He had convincingly won the general elections and to a certain extent silenced his critics.


But five years later, Khama took his last oath of office in gloomy circumstances. He arrived with the old ugly black presidential Mercedes Benz guarded by men riding white horses from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). He was wearing a black suit, white shirt and a matching black and white stripped tie. He did not opt for the stylish slim fit design but came with a rather too big jacket.

Khama’s gestures

For a man under duress, his

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gestures spoke louder than words on this very important day. They told a story of a very worried man, scared of losing control of his party MPs.  Throughout the short ceremony, Khama was fidgety. He rarely smiled and appeared bored.

Even though inauguration is understandably a formal and sacred event, Khama displayed gestures that revealed that he was overwrought and distracted by something that was playing out in his mind. It was not the happy dancing president that got down to polka sounds during the BDP campaigns.

The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Margaret Nasha who is widely known for diffusing tense moments with her raw humour was seated on his left and could only elicit short white grins from the president. It is also common knowledge that Khama does not want Nasha to be retained as Speaker. Perhaps the thought of sitting next to Nasha made him even more uncomfortable. There was a constant conversation between Khama and Nasha throughout the proceedings. Mmegi photographers captured many images of the two leaders deep in animated discussion.

The outspoken Nasha kept using her hands to drive her point home. From our distant observation, some words left the jolly Speaker with a serious face that suggested there was a silent heated argument between the two. Nasha is not the type to be easily put off but from her reactions, the president was getting the better of her.

After the swearing in, singing of the national anthem, cannon blasts of the 21-gun salute, a short walk to inspect the BDF guard of honour, the president delivered his inauguration speech.

The speech had nothing new other than the usual 5Ds and tired talk that he touted during his campaign spree. It had no central theme but he briefly touched on many national issues. It was a poor speech, delivered without any vigour and excitement, saying nothing inspiring and nothing to spur Botswana into action.

Argument with Speaker

At 2pm, the President arrived with the Speaker at Parliament for the meeting of the elected Members of Parliament. The meeting was to vote for the Specially Elected MPs. During the voting process, Khama who appeared to be fidgeting stood up and walked to the Speaker in what appeared like he was seeking some clarification.

Nasha, still in her animated talk, explained something to the President who seemed unconvinced. At some point, Nasha raised both her hands in what appeared like ‘I give up’ gesture. She called over parliamentary counsel, Thebe Ramokhuwa to help her. Both men, Khama on the right and Ramokhuwa on the left, leaned to the Speaker arguing. The President walked back to his seat and looked disappointed from what he got from the counsel. 

The results of the voting was nothing surprising as Khama’s nominees namely; Kitso Mokaila, Kenneth Matambo, Eric Molale and Unity Dow each got 38 votes showing that all 37 BDP MPs and Khama voted for them. The nominees from the opposition got the combined votes from Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) of 20.

After the voting and before the adjournment, Nasha announced to MPs to wait for the issuance of proclamation by the President that will kick off the official business of the 11th Parliament of Botswana.

This was abnormal since Parliament had already sent out the schedule to media houses on the process of the opening of the 11th Parliament. It was expected that the President would, as is the norm issue the proclamation after being sworn in. But it was clear from Nasha’s body language that the President had threatened to freeze everything if things are not done his way.

A few hours after the adjournment, news arrived that the Attorney General; acting on behalf of Khama was suing the three political parties, Umbrella for Democratic Change, Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) over the change in Standing Orders. The paranoia of the President was finally playing out in the open in a move allegedly started by BDP lawyer, Parks Tafa writing to the AG that the amendments of Standing Orders effected in August could be a breach the constitution.

The AG decided to lodge an urgent application to have the amendments declared unconstitutional. Parliament responded with a press release on Tuesday evening announcing that the scheduled swearing in of MPs will not take effect pending the proclamation by the President.

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