As the anti-Masisi campaign begins in earnest, it is no surprise, at least to the students of power that former president Ian Khama would be at the helm of it.
Khama the man, whom someone once summarised as a moralistic opportunist, humble-malignant narcissist, democratic- dictator, compassionate oppressor, rapacious dancer, sensitive disciplinarian, motor-bike loving, bestial man of culture, and lover of nature, was always going to be true to his character and play his hand.
In fact, the only thing surprising to me is the school of thought that President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Khama are evenly matched at this juncture. It is really mind boggling that the idea to rally around a former president (one who could never again be president (underline that) to take on a newly elected president somehow grew legs.
Bellow are points that illustrate that Masisi has so far gained the advantage in this contest of power, as well as the options available to Masisi to ensure victory against Khama. Politicians are generally fickle and shift when power shifts
Aristotle said that History is cyclic,what happened in the past will most certainly happen in the future. The history of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) teaches us that it is characteristic of the majority of party faithful to obey power without question and turn a deaf ear to the inner drone of conscience.
During the campaign for BDP chairmanship, one cabinet Minister called me to ask me whether she should support Biggie Butale or Masisi, she was more sympathetic towards the underdog. Something silly about his principles and his energy and what not. Needless to say, I told her bluntly that that would be an unwise move. The reason was simple, power is like a strong magnate, and men (especially politicians) are drawn to it like helpless moths that rush to the light. And with that simple but so often missed analogy I told her that Masisi, because he was gradually being handed power by the then master, was fated to win.
Furthermore, I explained to her that by supporting a predestined loser she was unnecessarily raising her head above the parapet and essentially declaring herself as anti-Masisi, something that Masisi could later punish her for when he ascended the presidency.
Do not try and be hero, heroes are always the first to fall face first onto the political sword, I had expressed to her. My other reason for urging her to throw her weight behind Masisi was that the chairmanship or secretary general of the BDP means almost absolutely nothing. One might argue that it means you have influence and support, but that is a fallacy - an illusion that ended Daniel Kwelegobe and Gomolemo Motswaledi’s BDP political careers and almost ended that of Ponatshego Kedikilwe. If anything these positions are politically perilous positions to be in if you do not have the support of the President. They are more of ceremonial positions than power concentrated positions. To conclude the first point, Masisi has the power now, enshrined in the constitution, power which is second only to God’s. And Khama should consider all things over a cup of coffee with Kedikilwe before he lets people lead him to first humiliating defeat.
Khama’s power is waning by the day, whilst Masisi’s grows by the day
That is what happens when one person steps down as a president and the other one steps up. It happened to men who had ruled for far much longer and were more entrenched than Khama ever was. It happened to José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and it will happen to Khama as he fades out of the limelight and no longer has state resources at his disposal.
Every war is won long before it is fought (Khama is engaging Masisi too late)
There is a story of a boy who once poked a hole into a growing tree, and inserted a ring and then went on to observe the bark over a number of years as it grew over the hole and subsequently over the ring.
After 20 years had passed since he inserted the ring into the tree, he brought a large crowd to the tree and said: ‘behold,’ before he proceeded taking out a ring (an identical ring to the one from the one in the tree, only it wasn’t) from his pocket and and made it disappear, before asking someone to cut down the tree whence he found the same ring, much to the astonishment of the crowd. Needless to say he would posthumously be regarded as one of the greatest magician to ever grace the earth for that trick as well as many other.
But the truth is that he had no supernatural powers, knowing the entire story one sees that all he had that was impressive was foresight. He could think 20 years ahead. The same thing goes with Masisi. Khama lost the war many years ago against Masisi. Masisi outsmarted Khama from the moment they met. He fed Khama’s ego long enough to make him feel like he was no threat. He gave Khama the impression that he was so morbidly fearful of the master so much that he would always be easy to control. Masisi did what most could not do, which was to endure Khama all the whilst looking at the bigger picture. And that is why he is much more superior than Khama and most of his followers. Khama is single minded in his determination whereas Masisi adapts to changing circumstances, and does what is necessary to win.
Power attracts talented men (Masisi’s advisers are more talented
When the great Shu warlord Lui Bei discovered Zhuge Liang the master tactician, he likened the encounter to a shark that had finally found water.And from then onwards it was practically impossible to defeat him.Whatever Masisi was before he became president. He is clearly no longer that.And the mistake that Khama and his entourage are continuing to make is to still think of him as the good for nothing bootlicker who used to jump when the Master snapped his fingers. This is a war of minds and he who has recruited the most apt strategists will win. And he Masisi seems to have attracted very able men and women to help him consolidate his power. And this has been evident in Masisi’s first 100 days as president. So much so that I am convinced that his advisers are students of Machiavellian. For it was he who said: Act boldly in the beginning, the public has a short attention span, it will make them forget the accomplishments of your predecessor. Impress them with your vigour, and make your first priority the protection and consolidation of your power, without it, you are useless. Appear steadfast but be flexible, and remember the old adage, some of Gods greatest gifts are broken campaign promises.’ Masisi is embodying the teaching of Machevelli. And as such he is at an advantage.
A thorough audit of Khama’s advisers on the other hand, reveals that it is composed of people who are political liabilities -the camp of the wounded, people who are considered corrupt and hated by the general public, and want to use Khama to settle personal scores.They prey into his weaknesses. Which are. Khama may appear tolerant he is actually grudging at heart and paranoid, and trusts only those who agree with him and rub his ego the right way. Khama’s Strength is also his greatest weakness
Like I have mentioned before, Khama is single minded in his determination. He is stubborn in nature. He has always gotten his way and has won every fight he has ever been in. He does not understand that losing is sometimes good.. And that winning all the time is bad. Sometimes your victories bring you closer to your demise. History is full of arrogant men who were so accustomed to winning that the first time that they lost meant their death. Something that you cannot come back from. Conceding defeat early can save you from a humiliating defeat. It means you can live fight another day.
The options available to Masisi
Whilst I have outlined why Masisi has the advantage over Khama. I will also mention a few options available to Masisi. Focus on the person Khama wishes to replace you with (Play the long Game)
Patience and timing are key components in political warfare. Yes it is important that Masisi demonstrate that he is in charge and not Khama. But humiliating Khama keeps him in the spot light longer and may result in him gaining sympathy in the public arena. Furthermore I really don’t think that Khama is Masisi’s imminent threat, as he cannot be president, so Masisi should focus energy on the person that is rumoured he intends to appoint as president by either discrediting them or purging them. Shift their goal post every time. And make the prospects of power a distant reality. This will tire his supporters and make them disillusioned. Use time to Kill Khama’s momentum and disrupt his alliances.
Destroy, do not wound his followers
Whilst you should not immediately move against the darling of the people you should immediately go after his followers. Destroy do not wound. Do not be concerned about them fighting back. In fact welcome it. Be clinical in your execution.If you ponder much but are irresolute you give advantage to your opponent. Khama might be loved by many but a great number of the people he surrounds himself with are what you might term ‘the ‘enemies of the State’. Therefore just like Emmerson Mnangagwa it would be wise to launch a crusade to save Khama from corrupt women and men hell bent polluting his mind are causing a rift between you and him, these men and women hell bent on destroying the country. Defeat Khama by engaging small portions of his camp instead of his entire strength.
In ancient Rome, rulers would throw criminals into the lions den to appease the masses and increase their popularity. The people are yearning for blood Mr president, after a decade long repression people want to see corrupt men like Isaac Kgosi go to jail, do not harbour corrupt men who thrived under the old master, even if they have declared that undying loyalty to you they are useless to you and costly for you.
Make massive demonstrations of your power (Kill a fly with a Bazooka)
A newly elected president who is wise will make frequent massive demonstrations of his power, lest his detractors forget, that his power is second only to God’s. Destroy a fly with a bazooka if need be. Use courts and every means to take wealth from the Rich and then make the poor rich. Increase your popularity by making the elite’s peasants and make peasants the new Elites. More so that the current elite may be resistant to you because they are still loyal to the one before, who made them Elites.