No retiring President or Prime Minister should either expect or assume that an incoming successor will perform as a mere replica, or surrogate of himself. Reports have suggested that the ex-President has indeed been shocked because he had assumed that the new President would be this and no more.
Ex-President Mogae wisely ensured that he would not be drawn into such an unseemly fracas by replying, when asked, that he had no idea what kind of a President his successor might be.
It has been suggested that HE Masisi should be grateful, and accordingly behave because HE Khama had personally given him the presidency on a silver plate. For a certainty though we can note that Masire personally bestowed the chalice on Mogae and Mogae on Khama. Change the constitutional provision and claims of this sort will never again arise. Both Masire and Mogae were careful to give space to their respective successors.
HE Khama however is not of that kind. He is most unlikely to become an international peace keeper in the Congo, Somalia or the South Sudan. In contrast, he will be positioned not at the periphery of national affairs, as were his predecessors, but for the foreseeable future, bang in the middle. He is now de facto Kgosi of the Bangwato and in effect of the entire Central District. In time, he will undoubtedly become Chairman of the Ntlo wa Dikgosi.
The combination of these offices taken together with his very substantial involvement in the key Tourism industry and its major events will ensure that he will have the power either to greatly influence government policies in the future or to dominate government altogether. Were he also to succeed in obtaining Chairmanship of the BDP, as has recently been suggested as being his wish and intention, Masisi’s position would become untenable. Unless this kind of development can somehow be avoided, we will all be in a mess and a very serious mess at that. Indeed the seriousness of this situation was demonstrated by one newspaper which recently quoted an adherent of HE Khama’s as saying that this is now open war. Deciding who is the one making war may be a matter of personal preference. But then that gentleman has not been the only one to speak in broadly similar terms. Some weeks ago, a small group of notable BDP and government elders were happy to identify themselves as being intent on either neutralising HE Masisi at the next party conference or replacing him. Presumably agreement has already been reached as to who the replacement would be. Subsequent reports have indicated that theirs was no idle threat. The Sunday Standard reported for instance that ‘Masisi inherited a deeply criminalised government and his attempts to decriminalize it are being fiercely resisted by senior BDP figures who fear that the net is closing in on them.’ (15.7/16) If this observation is correct, we will have to understand either that it is this group which alone constitutes the anti Masisi campaign or that HE Khama’s concerns are so intertwined with this group that they are one and the same. If this too is correct, the implications are obvious and awesome. In a telling comment Michael Dingake suggested that HE Khama has reason to be worried because he doesn’t know what will be about to follow, but that he would never give in. The same Gazette refers to HE Khama’s interests but without going further to explain what these might be.
This leaves us worryingly short on clarity. Yet if there is any single, common issue between the protagonists it would seem, unavoidably, to centre on Mr I. Kgosi, his dismissal and the information which he undoubtedly possesses about all the key players. It would appear to be in the interests of the one that what he knows should never be revealed whilst it must be the wish of the other that everything should be brought into the open. Ina strange twist it does now seem therefore that Mr Kgosi is the central, probably determining factor in this struggle for power. Yet this struggle cannot be protracted and long drawn out. One way or another it will have to be brought to a conclusion because it cannot be in anyone’s interests that it should continue as a long running festering sore. It can hardly have come as a surprise to anyone therefore that Mr Kgosi’s file should have so mysteriously disappeared somewhere between the DCEC and the DPP. (Gazette 18.7.18) The file in question is a government file and the individual who arranged its disappearance is a government employee. This obvious but sad fact demonstrates that what is involved here goes way beyond a manageable spat between the two big elephants. The disappearance of this enormously important file demonstrates just how serious and damaging is the cleavage within the civil service itself. So what does comes next? HE Khama doesn’t know nor do we. But preparations have undoubtedly been made and positions staked out both within government and outside it. Neither of the two power blocks can now back off so we must realise that the outcome of their collision will determine what kind of a country this will be both in the short and longer term.