Why, without good need, would a sitting President humiliate a former President? He has other problems on his hands. Did Mogae humiliate Masire. Did Khama humiliate Mogae? Why would Masisi seek to humiliate Khama?
It is improbable that such a scenario has ever occurred elsewhere in Africa if only because African leaders only rarely retire. And then again, it’s improbable that any other country in Africa has three times achieved a peaceful change of leadership. So why should it go wrong this time? One reason has to be that HE Khama is not your average former President – there being no such thing of course. Since his more youthful days, he has never been anything other than head, virtually the supreme head of everything, the country’s major tribal group, the army and the country. Was it to be expected that he might be or could be anything else? His successor as President had therefore to be either a lapdog, in which case there would be no conflict, or a real man with whom conflict was inevitable. In the former case, the last 10 years would be carried forward into the next 10 and there would be no change of any kind. Now, we learn that the issues involved go way beyond a clash of personalities or deciding that the last 10 years have been either the best since Independence or the worst? Do some truly believe that HE Khama dragged the country out of the mire in which former President Mogae had dumped it? Should we believe that HE Masisi is now trying to disentangle the country from the mess that he had inherited? Some will go one way, some the other. It has to be important to recognise though that these ‘some’ can only be members of the BDP. This makes it a straight forward internal party battle, although it is in fact anything but straightforward with the obvious loser being the country. Which of the two BDP factions might emerge the winner?
Can there be a winner? Could a split BDP really govern the country in any meaningful way? But what does each one now seek? What is most at stake and what tactics might be deployed? We have been told that the intention of the pro-Khama faction is either to neutralise Masisi at the BDP conference, or replace him. It would help if we could be told how such a process might work. I for one have no idea. But the one is head of state, the other isn’t. Is it all about dishevelled government and widespread corruption at the top, or can there be other issues involved?
Will the Masisi government continue to promote itself as being whole-heartedly anti-corruption, leaving the Khama sympathisers to protest thinly, either that they share such concerns or that they don’t. For his part, HE Khama has already staked out his own position that he is perhaps alone in so caring for the poor and dispossessed, a powerful consideration which it will be difficult to contest. Against this, the effectiveness of this claim would depend on regular exposure on BTV. Were this exposure to be reduced or removed altogether, the claim might wear thin.
For now, it should not escape attention that Masisi is trying to reduce the numbers of separated civil service couples, which is a policy change which is bound to be well-received. But there are other obvious issues. Which group will achieve control of the DISS and the DCEC and for how long can the Attorney General remain independent?
And then there is the BDF, which hopefully will have the strength and common sense not to get involved? But pressures on key individuals will undoubtedly be brought to bear. But then it is likely that HE Khama will want to resume his fireside/blankets village visits. Deciding whether these are personal or party visits will generate even more problems. Whether the one or the other, questions about his transport and personal security will inevitably arise.
Even if he organises his own transport, which would be unusual, it would be the government which would have to pay for and organise transport for his security detail. And what would happen if he moves from village to village perhaps by air or by utilising the famous caravan claiming to be campaigning on behalf of the party?
Could the party credibly maintain that such visits had never been included in its campaign programme? But even if it did succeed in doing so, how would it explain why it was using tax payer’s money for campaigning purposes - the former President being able to campaign only if he was accompanied by his government paid security detail. I assume that all these issues have already been carefully considered and how they might be best exploited.
Whatever anybody does however, it is obvious that HE Khama will be and can only be a major factor in the country’s political life if only because he will always be able to make life uncomfortable for any other President than himself.