Mmegi Blogs :: The Arrogance of Power
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Friday 23 February 2018, 16:45 pm.
The Arrogance of Power

How does one security vehicle convoy force another off the road?
By Sandy Grant Mon 13 Nov 2017, 17:30 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The Arrogance of Power

In theory, it couldn’t possibly have happened. However, Government spokesman, J. Ramsay confirmed that recently the convoy of the Premier of the North West Province in South Africa ‘forced vehicles escorting HE President Khama, amongst others, off the road.’ It is that, ‘amongst others’ term that is so important. Did Premier Mahumapelo somehow force all the vehicles in the President’s convoy off the A1, or all of them with the exception of the President’s? It is not clear. To which vehicles was Ramsay referring as being ‘amongst others’? Probably/possibly, the several hundred vehicles that Premier Mahumapelo may have forced off the road as he traveled from Francistown to Ramatlhabama.

I had this kind of experience many years ago when being ordered off the road by a motor biked security gentleman. Off the road, he shouted, not to the side of the road. Not the moment to debate the matter and anyway how long does one have before being run down? So, I careered left, waited under a friendly tree for His Eminence to pass and then resumed my journey. But let’s stick with the two convoys. One, suggests the Guardian, was travelling at great speed which was presumably enough to overtake the President’s convoy which, for the sake of argument, was moving at the regulation 120 kph. From memory in Gaborone, HE’s convoy consists of four motor bikes followed by four cars, then the President, then four more cars and then the motor bikes again. 

Does this convoy in its entirety stretch for half a kilometre? The precise length does not matter. Given his position, would the NW Premier feel that his convoy should be of similar or greater length? How long would it take for one of these convoys to overtake the other? And what happens with the ongoing traffic when this power conflict is being played out? But speculatively, what would happen if you or I were to overtake the President’s convoy at great speed?   We don’t know because we may believe that this has never happened. However, we should note that a Brit, Gerald Hedge, a recent arrival in 1994 in Gaborone was learnt a car by a friend to get home from the old Gaborone Sun, lost his way in the unfamiliar town, and kept returning to the entrance to State House.

So, he was shot dead. It only needed a security guard with commonsense to have stopped Hedge and asked him if he needed help because whilst suspicious,


he could never have been a security threat? And all would have ended well.

The Mahumapelo incident is of a very different kind and if it was you or me, I don’t doubt that we too would have been shot dead. The security escort instead allowed a very obvious security incident to occur without even reacting. Why did they not shoot Mahumapelo dead or at least wreck the tyres in very vehicle in that convoy? Then come to the police. After the convoy incident, the traffic police must have been alerted to the real danger to traffic that Premier Mahumapelo was causing as he raced towards the border. It might have felt wise not to arrest him, but at least the police could have escorted him at a more sensible speed, back to the border. Seemingly this did not happen because there was a wish to avoid a major diplomatic incident. But what would have happened if he had left behind him a trail of wrecked vehicles and destroyed lives? Or did he? He would certainly have been criminally at fault, but he would be safe at home presumably ring-fenced against any possibility of extradition. There are all sorts of way of looking at this incident, but one is of awe at the unbelievable arrogance of the NW Premier who presumably believed that he could do here what he must routinely do there. The government has banned many people from coming to this country, with or without convincing reason. For reasons of diplomacy, it would probably be unwise. to ban Premier Mahumapelo, but President Zuma should assuredly be advised that this gentleman will not again be a welcome visitor here. I do suggest, however, that this incident provides a rare opportunity to re-assess how in future the President should move by road from one place to another. 

The Mahumapelo incident has demonstrated that standard security measures to ensure his safety have proved to be hopelessly ineffective. There is a fine line between ensuring, as far as is possible, the safety of the President on the move and the major disruption that this causes to civil society and thus, not least, the voter.Premier Mahumapelo clearly does not care. But this is Botswana and a President here needs to find a sensible balance between effective security and non-effective power strutting. And none of those fighter jets would have been of the slightest use in averting what really was a significant security issue.


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