FRANCISTOWN: When former president Ian Khama selected Mokgweetsi Masisi his vice president in 2014, talk was abound that the forth president had replicated himself as the duo bore striking similarities.
As for the pair, Khama and Masisi theirs was a relationship seemingly made in heaven. They loved and hated organisations and individuals together. There was even common talk that the duo’s striking similarities did not provide variety in leadership at the Office of the President (OP) as they seemed to agree on many things.
It was generally feared that in Masisi, Khama had replicated himself to the extent that some political commentators felt that the ascendance of Masisi as state President on April 1 this year was simply akin to Khama ruling from the grave.
Masisi was even labelled Khama’s political Siamese twin and fear was abounding in the political circles that the same pitfalls that Khama experienced in his presidency, Masisi might encounter them.
Khama used his prerogative as the then president to appoint Masisi as his deputy and he even fought court battles over the National Assembly standing orders on the type of election method to be used. Media reports show that Khama was impressed by Masisi’s track record as a minister who served under him to anoint him the heir apparent. On April 1 during Masisi’s swearing-in ceremony and after his inaugural speech, Masisi and Khama publicly hugged emotionally as Khama’s era came to an end, setting in motion the Masisi era. It was a special moment when Khama the ‘political tutor’ ushered his student onto a bigger stage to lead the country.
What went wrong in the Khama/Masisi relationship?
The political umbilical cord that adjoined the two was seemingly severed the very moment Masisi took over. The new President seemingly threw away his mentor’s political shoes and simply fitted on his own. In other words, the very moment Masisi ascended to the highest office in the land at the OP, he became a new being with fresh ideas, focus and dreams, far from his mentor’s desires.
Within 61 days (today) after his appointment as the state President, Masisi has embarrassingly reversed a good number of major decisions made by the Khama administration or simply challenged them in a manner that is reminiscent of a man destined to show the world that he is indeed in change. Masisi’s administration has been on a crusade to seemingly embarrass and humiliate Khama. One of the major decisions made by Masisi as he continues to assert himself is the recent firing of Khama’s blue-eyed boy, Isaac Kgosi, the pioneering director general of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DIS).
Interestingly, he immediately replaced Kgosi with Brigadier (retired) Peter Magosi who was fired by Khama from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) under a cloud a few years ago, after legal battles with the authorities.
The firing of Kgosi follows his decision to also allow Khama to fly the DIS jet after his (Khama’s) attempt to use the BDF planes was rejected as it used to be the norm. Kgosi’s utterances when appearing before the Parliamentary oversight body, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he did not account to anyone might have compounded the situation. Now, the man who Khama hated and frustrated has since reemerged at the DIS as the new director general, which obviously undermines Khama’s earlier decision.
Just lately, social media has been awash with a decision taken
It’s the Masisi administration that reportedly instituted the search. Former president’s security detail was reviewed recently reportedly at the insistence of the current regime when Khama apparently wished to keep the team. These are just a few examples of the many changes since Masisi became the President.
This week when addressing his inaugural press conference at the Mass Media Complex in Gaborone, Masisi denied targeting his former boss by amongst others reducing his security detail.
“Decisions are made and we are guided by the government Green Book,” Masisi said at a live broadcast press conference. His emphasis was that it was the local press that was seeing non-existent malice in some of the decisions.
University of Botswana (UB) political science lecturer, Leonard Sesa said this week that Khama had appointed Masisi as his VP and tasked him with a number of assignments that he performed with aplomb.
“Today Masisi occupies the State House and he is seemingly acting in accordance with the dictates of his office and of course continues to perform with aplomb as he had caught Khama’s eye. If Khama expected Masisi to handle him with kids’ gloves, unfortunately, it’s showing that the President is not going to bend the rules just because he is dealing with his former boss,” he noted indicating that it may sound bad but Masisi is simply asserting himself in the discharge of his duties as the President. Sesa emphasised that Masisi is in power and all that could affect the quality of his presidency it’s in his interest to ensure that he deals with it.
“Masisi is an avid reader and as he continues to acclimatise himself with his office, it’s expected that he comes with pertinent changes within the powers vested upon him as the state President,” highlighted Sesa indicating that unfortunately, Masisi will not allow anyone to lead with him.
He acknowledges that some of the changes may sound humiliating and demeaning, but his thinking line has to take centre stage. “There cannot be two centres of power. Let alone, Masisi cannot allow anyone to lead with him, therefore, he has to do what he thinks it’s right for the country.” In summation, Sesa noted that Masisi’s change of some of Khama’s decisions, which stood out in his presidency like restricted liquor trading hours, “it’s certainly a blow to Khama and a lot of other things associated with the Khama administration that Masisi continues undoing”.