A historical disgrace on Khama, Botswana

Ian Khama PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
Ian Khama PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES

After a number of dramatic detentions and arrests of his allies, former president Ian Khama has finally been charged with 14 offences becoming the first former president to be charged with criminal offences. Khama has been out of office for four years now and cannot claim presidential immunity, therefore if convicted he could be sentenced to prison, writes Mmegi Staffer MOMPATI TLHANKANE

Although some of his allies like former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) director-general Isaac Kgosi, Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe and deputy permanent secretary Victor Paledi have also been charged, this is already gearing up to become one of the most significant legal showdowns in Botswana’s history. This follows weeks of wrangling in which the former president and his sympathisers accused the DIS of detaining Khama’s allies and family without evidence.

While the move is unprecedented in Botswana, the months ahead are likely to be more dramatic as Khama, who is in exile in South Africa, did not return home to face his charges head-on yesterday in court. He might never get to make his plea before court because he said he fled the country fearing for his own life. On the day of his court appearance yesterday morning, he posted a video of himself piloting an aircraft in an undisclosed airspace.

The case has since been postponed to June 6 because there were some amendments to his charge sheet increasing his counts from the initial 13 to 14.


Khama will be served and is expected to appear in court this winter and if he does not show up like he did yesterday, the former army commander is likely to be found guilty of contempt of court. Consequently, if he is found guilty, Khama will become the first president of Botswana to be extradited, arrested, and jailed. He is likely to spend months in prison for ignoring an order to appear before an official court of law.

The former president has been charged with criminal offences which include amongst others, unlawful possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, procuring the registration of a firearm by false pretence, aiding and abetting unlawful possession of a firearm and ownership of a firearm not registered in accordance with the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2018.

“My reaction is I am embarrassed that the country is being exposed by this regime as being dishonest, intolerant and continuing to undermine the rule of law in order to target opponents of the regime and its dictator through fabricated charges. It only serves to make me more determined to bring about their downfall,” Khama told Mmegi yesterday. Asked if he will appear in court on June 6, Khama said, “let’s wait and see what happens”. Whether this case will cap a stunning downfall for the once-lauded Khama, it is up to the judiciary. But Khama does not trust the judiciary and it is something that he recently expressed in an interview with the eNCA.

He revealed recently that the judiciary is a joke and also corrupt. “I have been informed by better people than me who know the law; I have been told by judges, those in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and lawyers that the whole system now has been captured,” he told the eNCA.

He said since his time as president, so much has changed in the judiciary.

He maintains that his exile is not fleeing from the justice system, but it is rather taking a precaution. Khama clarified that although there are still good people in the judiciary, some of them have allowed themselves to be captured.

He disclosed that some judges have told him that he is not going to win these cases. “What is the justice to go back for?” he further indicated.

Another reason Khama said he could not come back was because of the three attempts he claims were to poison him.

He said one can come back and face the music, but he cannot risk it and would not be doing himself justice by returning to Botswana. Khama also said it is in his best interest not to return and be ‘killed by these people’. “It would very stupid if you know that people are out to eliminate you and you just go and present yourself to them and let them do what they want to do. You don’t just go and jump into a lion’s den without taking precautions,” he highlighted. Khama has always insisted that his political enemies specifically President Mokgweetsi Masisi are using the courts to target him. He feels that Botswana is a ‘banana republic’ and the kind of country that uses the courts to punish political opponents. He pointed out that after the failed P100 billion case was thrown out of the courts, the government came up with weapons of war accusations.

“They said I have been stealing weapons of war over the years. Apparently when I was still president I would sneak out of the State House, a guarded area go to a military camp, guarded, go to the armouries, which are guarded and go and help myself with weapons and go hide them somewhere,” Khama recently told Good Governance Africa in an interview.

He refuted allegations that he has artillery but admitted that he does have personal weapons, which are all licensed.

Khama said he recently approached a Parliamentary committee in Botswana to establish whether he has stolen weapons of war and also investigate attempts of poisoning him on three occasions. He said to this date they have not done that.

He has for a long time been casting himself as a victim of a political conspiracy hatched by the Masisi administration. Now in a case that has been building up for quite some time, Masisi’s administration is prepared to uphold the rule of law by jailing his former boss, a man who hand-picked Masisi as the next president in the country’s automatic succession, a man whom they personally know, a man they used to hold in high regard.

These accusations have already started to taint Khama who is best known for his populist figure.

This is Khama, the chief of Bangwato tribe and the eldest son of the country’s founding father, Sir Seretse Khama.

This is the man who possesses the so-called Khama magic and deeply loved in various corners of Botswana, particularly amongst Bangwato tribe in his home village of Serowe.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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