Mmegi Online :: Khama takes the region by storm, but...
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Last Updated
Friday 24 November 2017, 17:23 pm.
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Khama takes the region by storm, but...

FRANCISTOWN: Slowly but surely, President Ian Khama is firmly gaining ground in the art of cracking jokes that leave his audiences spellbound.
By Ryder Gabathuse Thu 06 Jul 2017, 18:14 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Khama takes the region by storm, but...








However, questions abound as to why President Khama has recently adopted the lighted-hearted approach as opposed to the hard stance he had projected previously throughout his 19 years in office as both vice president and President where he even chose not to attend some crucial regional and international meetings.

In his new approach, he has performed with aplomb to keep audiences in stitches throughout the duration of his addresses.

In Francistown recently, when addressing a Kgotla meeting at Donga Customary Court, his jokes dominated the meeting.

He would later address a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Mbabane, Swaziland recently where he was a comical lot with his speech punctuated with the Swazi reed dance.

At the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire’s funeral, Khama combined jokes and seriousness to communicate his messages to the targeted audiences.

He seems to be doing very well in targeting different audiences with his different types of jokes.

He makes a perfect distinction between the sense of humour and sense of seriousness to distinguish what is supposed to be taken literally or not.

To the uninitiated, a joke is actually premised on understanding that it will leave listeners spellbound which challenges the joker to be up to scratch. It goes without saying that when an entertainer cracks a joke; he or she hopes the audience gets entertained.

In some quarters, Khama’s new way of doing things has been hailed as a masterpiece in that it helps break tension that existed between Botswana and her SADC neighbours.

It’s apparent that Botswana as a country differed with her fellow SADC countreparts on major issues like the death penalty which Botswana subscribes to whilst other countries plead for Botswana to abolish it.

Botswana subscribes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) whilst some SADC and generally African countries are opposed to it. Botswana under President Khama has been very critical of countries that have no respect for human rights, including her fellow SADC countries, which raised tension among some SADC country members.

So, for Khama to be able to crack jokes, sending home important messages even at SADC summits, it helps to particularly break tension that has existed within the region.

In a bigger way, Khama has been cracking his jokes in the spirit of brotherhood, which helps to further break the divisions within the SADC countries.

Khama’s handlers are only now seeing the importance of guiding the president

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to be part of his people and play a meaningful role in the regional bloc.

It is perhaps Khama’s timing of his new approach that has attracted criticism from some quarters that knowing that he is about to exit his Presidency, he is therefore trying to endear himself to his people and the region.

A critical view by University of Botswana (UB) lecturer in politics, Dr. Kebapetse Lotshwao raises worries about Khama’s change of heart now, in his approach.

Lotshwao is steadfast that Khama was at some stage SADC chairperson and wonders what he did whilst on the seat of power in the regional bloc.

“Why jokes now and no action?” wonders  the UB don. If Khama’s approach to the regional bloc and domestically has changed, Lotshwao insisted that he (Khama) has to show through action, more so that he had his chance to shine as the chairperson of SADC.

During his tenure (2015-2016), Khama brokered a peace deal on behalf of SADC in the tiny Kingdom of Lesotho and Lotshwao asks rhetorically: “How long did that peace deal last?”

The academic posits that Khama knows that his exit from the Presidency is nearing and he is now trying to endear himself to the people he failed to serve diligently. “He is trying to prepare for his exit so that he makes peace with people he had differences with. He should have used the opportunity whilst in office as state President and SADC chairperson.”

Political commentator, Anthony Morima has noted Khama’s light-hearted speeches lately, which he says work wonders for the President.

He has particularly noted with interest when Khama spoke at Masire’s funeral in an issue relating to the government’s honours policy, which he articulated very well in a light-hearted manner yet driving his point home.

Khama was responding to a jab he had earlier received from former cabinet minister, Daniel Kwelagobe who cast aspersions on Khama’s government in honouring departed statesmen like Masire.

“If Khama had become too serious, it would have backfired on him. He used the same wisdom that Masire, and to some extent former president Festus Mogae, used to communicate with the nation on pertinent issues,” reminisces Morima.

The political commentator holds a view that either Khama has realised that he needs to relax a bit, or someone has told him to relax a bit.

“It’s gradually showing that it’s working for him.”

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