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The Khama magic loses its potency

Former president Ian Khama PIC. KEOAGILE BONANG
SEROWE: From his last national assignment as the helmsman at the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), former State president Ian Khama’s magic has waned faster than expected.

When he retired from the army in 1998 at the insistence of former president Festus Mogae, it was the Khama magic that was expected to amongst others propel the fortunes of the ruling BDP to appreciate, against all odds.

His assignment was to return the BDP from its warring factions to a calm, united peaceful and convincingly winning entity.

Upon taking oath of office as the fourth State president in 2008, Khama set the country along the path in which he believed that he would not change anything from what the Mogae administration espoused.

He would then immediately introduce the four Ds and later the fifth one which marked his strategic direction or roadmap. The Five Ds will immediately become an anthem in the ruling BDP and its government. It was not long however, before the five Ds died a natural death and disappeared into oblivion.

The five Ds anthem has long been buried and condemned into the backyard of he BDP Tsholetsa House, the ruling party’s headquarters. The Five Ds stood for Democracy, Discipline, Dignity, Development and Delivery.

Khama’s successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi upon taking over, just like his mentor, chose to pursue his path far away from Khama’s world outlook and fashion of doing things.

Masisi’s attitude has seemingly rubbed Khama the wrong way to the extent that at the Serowe showgrounds meeting he addressed, the former president complained that, “it seems the Masisi administration is hell-bent on eradicating my legacy.”

Masisi denied Khama the benefit of flying state aircraft and generally abusing state apparatus.  In other matter, the current administration reversed some of the laws or policies that in force during the Khama administration such the Liquor Act, which restricted operation hours.

To many, especially in the opposition ranks, Khama was simply your military dictator who had no regard for the interests of the nation. He ruled by instilling fear in the minds of those who followed him.

It was during his tenure as the BDP and country’s top man that the party experienced an exodus of disillusioned members when a faction of the party, Barata Phathi broke away to form a new political organisation known as the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

In the new family order of things, the BDP already has a grand child, a breakaway party from the BMD known as the Alliance for Progressives (AP).

Khama is the only BDP leader who goes into the history books as the man whose leadership forced the formation of a breakaway party. Observers say now, he seems hell bent on destroying the hard work of others who helped make the BDP what it is today, That he would do by destroying the hard-earned fortunes of he BDP in GammaNgwato.

His latest announcement that he is on his way out of the BDP and pleads with his tribesmen to go with him to the Promised Land has raised many questions about his loyalty to the BDP.

From Serowe where Khama addressed a hugely attended meeting, it was apparent that whilst he is still appealing to his tribe, Khama is troubled by something that he has failed to share openly with his subjects.

At the weekend, Khama’s arrival and departure were characterised by huge support as he was mopped

by thousands of his tribal loyalists who even endorsed his proposal to exit the BDP without a hitch.

Although Khama had come to consult the masses in GammaNgwato for the green light to leave the party that was amongst others formed by his late father Sir Seretse Khama, the tribe did not have the patience to wait for two to three weeks.  They gave their Kgosi the go ahead to leave as soon as possible.

From the comments and addresses at the Khama meeting, it was apparent that the tribe was in unison that wherever their Kgosi goes the tribe will rally behind him.

However, beneath the chorus politics sung and mastered by Khama’s diehards in the form of retired police officer, Ronald Mojakgomo who was the master of the ceremonies at the event, there are Bangwato that are saddened by Khama’s announcement.

A youthful politician who preferred anonymity because he is a civil servant but a BDP staunch member differed with majority of Khama subjects whom he thought blindly followed their leader without objective thinking.

Khama and his tribal loyalists still have a lot of hard work to do to easily win the hearts and minds of the entire tribe across its vastness of the Central District.

The youthful Mongwato and BDP diehard asked a simple question that many could who see things from a similar corner could ask.

He wanted to know why Khama was able to articulate the wrongs  of the Masisi administration without telling Bangwato exactly what he (Khama) was doing or not doing to the new administration.

The man said he was not convinced that Khama could just wake up one of the days and call for Bangwato to rally behind him in his fight against the BDP.

“The BDP as an institution is bigger than Khama. More so that it has been our parents whose hands have been soiled to keep the BDP going and not Khama himself. So, it is not convincing that Bangwato will rally behind him just because he is their Chief.” The source disputed that the Khama magic would lead the masses to successfully turn against the BDP.

Within the two to three weeks, of consultation as pleaded by Khama, it’s possible that the level of debate could have changed against and for Khama.

In the last general elections, Khama as the helmsman of the BDP failed the party as it won the elections with a popular vote below 50%, a first for the BDP since independence.Political pundits are doubtful that with his waning fortunes after failing to appeal to supporters during his BDP days that Khama can now be more attractive to the voters simply because this time around he comes as Bangwato Chief.

Plus he failed to rally the BDP into performing better and instead the party’s fortunes have been on a downward trajectory.In the eyes of University of Botswana (UB) senior lecturer in politics, Dr. Kebapetse Lotshwao the Khama magic is no longer relevant. 

If Khama quits the BDP, “I don’t see that leading to the defeat of the party. Although some members may follow him, majority is bound to remain with the party. They are loyal to the BDP as an institution, not Khama.”




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