Four American presidents have been assassinated in office. Abraham Lincoln was the first to be slain in 1865 followed by James Garfield in 1881. The beginning of the 20th Century witnessed the killing of President William McKinley in 1901.
It would be another six decades before the November 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy made him the fourth and last American president to be assassinated.
There is a lamentable cost to the assassination of a Head of State. Political assassinations are different from other murders both in motivation and in consequences. A bullet fired by Serbian nationalist killing Austria’s Archduke in 1914 sparked the First World War which arguably paved way to the Second.
Unique trends exist within assassinations of presidents. Authoritarian states without clear succession rules are most susceptible. This is even truer where leaders enjoy significant power in societies that include oppressed minorities and high levels of political polarization.
The 1961 murder of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, often blamed on the CIA, set the DRC on its path of mayhem. Mutiny in the army, secession of mineral rich Katanga, rebellion and inter-ethnic fights characterised the tumultuous regime of Lumumba. After failing to get support from the US and United Nations to fighting secession, Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union – a cardinal sin during the cold war. Lumumba’s was deposed by army chief Mobuto Sese Seko and executed.
Nigeria’s Prime Minister Abubaker Balewa’s reign was littered with regional factionalism, electoral violence, political and ethnic unrest. On January 15, 1966, a group of officers struck against the political class assassinating amongst prominent politicians. Balewa was top of the hit list. In Congo Marien Ngouabi’s National Revolutionary Council came to power in December 1968. He established the continent’s first Marxist-Leninist state and founded the Congolese Workers’ Party as the sole legal political party. In March 1977, he was assassinated.
Egypt’s Muhammad Anwar al-Sadaat was assassinated at a military parade in 1981 by a group of officers who were discontent about the peace deal with Israel, worsening economy, imprisonment of opposition figures, amongst other things. Across the Sahara and to the West, Samuel Doe became the first indigenous president of Liberia in 1980. In 1989, a Liberian Civil War broke out led by former ally Charles Taylor. Doe was captured by faction leader Prince Y. Johnson, tortured and executed. Taylor assumed the presidency and held onto power until 2003.
Thomas Sankara seized power in a 1983 coup in an attempt to break Upper Volta’s ties to French coloniser and in the process renaming the country Burkina Faso. Sankara’s ambitious agenda to eliminate corruption and encourage economic and social progress resulted in an authoritarian approach to power. Though he remained an icon to the poor, his policies aggravated the middle class. He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré in October 1987.
On April 6, 1994, an airplane was shot down killing Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President, Cyprian Ntaryamira. Habyarimana’s death escalated already heated Hutu-Tutsi ethnic tensions sparking off the Rwandan genocide of 1994 which saw almost a million Tutsis massacred to death within a space of four months. Habyarimana, a Hutu, served from 1973 to 1994.
Laurent Kabila who took power in the DRC in 1997 after overthrowing Mobutu Sese Seko served for four years before being shot in January 2001 by one of his bodyguards. According to some DRC officials, the assassination was masterminded by Rwanda. Kabila’s murder was the last on African soil.
These eight Africans ruled non-democratic political environments where leaders garnered significant power in States without efficient mechanisms for leadership change. Consistent amongst these dictatorial States was a decline in political participation and a disproportionate increase in the strength of the executive. Advancing changes via assassinations became a continental past time.
Assassinations intensify State fragmentation and undermine democracy. In contrast, governments that promote political and social conditions decrease the prospects of political assassinations.
Botswana is about to break records and be the first democratic dispensation to assassinate its President since Kennedy’s shooting of 1963– that is according to Peter Magosi’s sickening sense of sullied imagination.
The henchman who masquerades as head of intelligence services has waged a relentless war on reality with a barrage of false and misleading claims. With every media engagement, the celebrity-status-seeking henchman cements his stature as the chief o’ lies. Who could want to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi?
At yet another disaster of a press conference, held on July 5, 2019, the chief o’ lies rummaged through self-created success stories around integrating the security cluster, addressing unashamedly stock theft as an issue of national security and fighting corruption. Who made the henchman government’s all-encompassing corruption busting super employee? The henchman claims a February 2019 arrest of a lone wolf at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) retreat. Surprisingly, the investigative mechanism and judiciary found supersonic speed in charging Isaac Kgosi for allegedly taking pictures and exposing identities of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) officers. How such a laughable charge is prioritised by the State machinery ahead of an assassination attempt on the President defies logic.
It is one thing for the chief o’ lies to falsify a reality and exaggerate his worth at a village bar. There is no lasting impact. But falsehoods really do matter when the henchman makes them the basis of the intelligence cluster with ultimate impact on policy decisions. This is simply no way to govern effectively when judgement is rooted in a false sense of illusion.
Regional newspaper The Southern Times claims President Mokgweetsi Masisi attended the US-Africa Summit hosted by Mozambique. Local media claim a mid-air u-turn with chronic liar, Magosi taking responsibility of ordering the return of the plane amidst unclear allegations that owe to his presence in Maputo. No media house in Mozambique has reported any unsavoury act to suggest a threat to Botswana’s President or the other nine heads of States present in Maputo at the time.
Is it remotely possible that imminent threat to the life of sitting Head of State could exist on foreign soil and still elude intelligence agencies of Mozambique? Julio Dos Santos Jane, director general of Mozambique State Intelligence and Security Services does not mention any threat or indication of power failure at any airport during the US-Africa Business Summit.
The sort of delusion perpetrated by the chief o’ lies poses lethal threats to the nation’s security. Until the henchman is called to order, his dangerous habit of foul fabrications will continue to spell the warped view of his alternative reality, sinking national deception to unimaginable depths.
Magosi’s peers in the international community must be alarmed and embarrassed for this inept officer who rides presidential cars shotgun. When does he focus on policy? Does anyone know a chief of intelligence elsewhere who doubles as a bodyguard?
Perhaps, inspired by movies of old, the chief o’ lies sees himself as a starring who saves the day in his myth-making fictitious action movie of alternative facts. The henchman needs to be awoken from his obtuse reasoning. This senseless narrative of the President’s life being in danger cannot go unchallenged.
The chief o’ lies insults the nation’s intelligence.