The white house at Plot 3121 President’s Drive in Gaborone Central, the new office of former president Ian Khama, has become the source of a raging storm within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
That is why on Tuesday this week, the ruling BDP Council of Elders including former vice president Ponatshego Kedikilwe, David Magang, Ray Molomo, Peter Siele and Patrick Balopi, knocked on the black gate of the white house on President’s Drive with olive peace branches seeking the reconciliation of the former president and his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The veterans are worried that the tension between Khama and Masisi is fuelling divisions within the party and is not good for the government.
They also fear that it could split the party, especially that the general elections are approaching. As the BDP is reeling from the shock of the fallen party heavyweights mostly aligned to Masisi against Khama’s supporters, the veterans approached Khama to douse the fires in their beloved party. Khama, who is widely known for brief action meetings, could not quickly run through the agenda as the meeting with the Domkrag veterans took just over five hours, Mmegi can confirm.
Even after the meeting the elderly men’s faces did not look jolly as one could have expected and clearly it showed that peace has eroded the BDP. According to a source, Khama openly told them that he wanted to know what he has done wrong. “Khama agreed that he would only have a meeting with Masisi if there is something that they could show that he had done wrong. “He said he was the one government was trying to humiliate and trying to control his movements like a child and now he has decided to use his resources. He admitted that he spoke to the media because everyone could see what is happening,” the source said.
Another source said Khama even told them that some of the BDP leadership are always in newspapers attacking him, but he had decided to keep quiet about it.
The source said he did not hide from the veterans that should the situation continue, he would openly take back the war to them.
The source said in the end the veterans told him that they would talk to BDP leadership and find a time to have a meeting with all concerned parties. Recently, the former President has been openly speaking to the media about his sour relationship with his successor and at the same time the BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi has been hitting hard on the former.
Khama recently told Mmegi that they never met with Masisi since he became President away from coincidental public gatherings. Even though Khama initially claimed in the interview that he has nothing to discuss with his successor, most of his complaints were directed at Masisi.
“I don’t want this thing to go out of hand. It is a very unfortunate situation. I never ever dreamt this could ever happen,” he commented on the frosty relations with his successor.
Despite Masisi’s widely publicised consultations with various leaders including courtesy visits on members of the first Parliament, he has never made time to meet his immediate predecessor. Khama has disclosed that the Masisi administration has summarily cut him off. Public officers have been told to seek permission from the Office of the President if they were to associate themselves with my charitable organisations,” claimed Khama.
Furthermore, Khama said: “Just recently I have been told that the government media has been told not to cover any of my public meetings”. For his part, Khama indicated that he was happy with the meeting with BDP veterans.
“I cannot disclose any issues or the way forward,” Khama said in an interview.
However, political analyst Antony Morima said the allowance of intervention could bring a positive sign. “Again it would depend on how they table their issue to him. I think they could have intervened before primary elections. It would be good if both parties approached could agree and see the need for a reconciliation process. I hope they had followed protocol procedure by starting with the President,” Morima said.
Efforts to contact Council of Elders chairperson, Patrick Balopi were not successful as his mobile phone was off. Balopi was reported to have gone outside the country.
Meanwhile Mmegi has learnt that permanent secretary to the President Carter Morupisi also had a long meeting with Khama on Monday relating to how government and Khama could iron out issues.
It is understood that government media had been told to cover his events. This is a change of policy since a few weeks ago the government media was told to snub Khama.