FRANCISTOWN: Is Tshekedi Khama rebellious to his elder brother and President Ian Khamaâ€™s authority?
Tshekedi’s recent announcement that he was joining the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) race for the chairmanship has been viewed in some quarters as an attempt to rebel against his brother.
In the BDP, there is a strong belief that Khama senior’s wish was to see his Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi assuming the chairmanship of the party so that he can familiarise himself with the party affairs as the heir apparent. Khama is on record having pronounced that Masisi was not just a caretaker VP but the man who will take over when his term expires in 2018.
So when Tshekedi joined the chairmanship race some strongly believed that he was rebelling against big brother.
Other serious contenders for the BDP chairmanship include Biggie Butale, Tebelelo Seretse and Ramadeluka Seretse.
It was President Khama who recruited his brother to active politics in the BDP. He first announced publicly his endorsement of younger brother when former president Festus Mogae launched him as a parliamentary candidate in 2004.
It was at this launch when the then vice president Khama announced that when he steps down as MP, his brother would be taking over from him amid whistling, ululations and fanfare from the masses that attended a rally held at the Serowe bus/taxi rank.
Khama’s support for Tshekedi frustrated political aspirations for politicians like the late Gomolemo Motswaledi who had declared his interest to contest against Tshekedi.
He (Motswaledi) was forced to relocate to an unfamiliar territory, Gaborone Central to contest for the parliamentary seat. He (Motswaledi) would later be frustrated by his suspension from the party after he had taken Khama to court challenging his powers. He lost with costs.
Generally, Khama’s political ‘pampering’ of his younger brother generally created an impression that Tshekedi as a politician depended upon his elder brother for survival.
With Khama’s tenure coming to an end in 2018, Tshekedi has to assert himself politically and prove to all and sundry that he was his own man. His latest maneuver is testimony that time has come for him to ready himself for the post-Khama era.
A ruling BDP Young Turk closer to Tshekedi, revealed this week that his man has never operated in his brother’s shadows rather he has always been his own man. For instance, he detailed how Tshekedi has been touring the Serowe three constituencies and Boteti area and others mobilising for support ahead of the July elective congress.
“Everyone has to grow and do things on his own. Khama’s tenure is coming to an end. Does it mean when Khama vacates office, TK (as Tshekedi is affectionately known) should go as well?” wondered TK’s supporter who pleaded anonymity.
He felt strongly that TK has to grow politically and survive the post-Khama era, and the best time for him to prepare himself is now. He has a strong view that TK is trying to grow like any BDP member and try his luck in the party chairmanship.
Parrying reports that TK’s progress and survival in the BDP depended mostly on the decisions of his elder brother, the BDP man said: “The way he speaks, that is his content, he is not borrowing any words from his brother. His declaration to contest for the chairmanship is not a rebellion, he wants to grow his career in the party.”
He added that TK’s destiny is in his own hands and not his brother’s and equally, Khama senior cannot be seen to be interfering with TK’s wishes and likes.
TK is indeed mature and is entitled to make his own choices. If he continues under his brother’s shadows, when he goes he will become irrelevant.
Political analyst Anthony Morima conceded that TK has been presenting an image of an independent politician, “but he possibly acted cautiously to avoid contaminating his relationship with is elder brother.”
Morima indicated, “We were initially made to believe that he (TK) had no political ambitions as he was involved in his businesses. Whilst may be he may not have wanted to be rebellious, some people may have influenced him to be rebellious by going around influencing him to contest for the chairmanship so that he could save their political careers post-Khama.”
Morima has a strong view that TK might have come to realisation that he has to take his political destiny in his own hands.
“Now that seemingly Masisi does not have enough political capital to lead the BDP, TK is on the scene possibly to save the party from going under,” noted Morima.
Morima argues that given the dynamics in the BDP, if he were the BDP strategist, he will advise them to have TK as the chairman to retain the BDP loyalists and help the party survive the winds of change blowing across our political landscape.
“Masisi has no political capital compared to TK as a member of Khama family and nothing else. By the way, Batswana have a tendency of voting based on the person and not ideology,” he said, adding that people are thinking that they have to protect the party by bringing a more sellable product like TK. University of Botswana (UB) political analyst Professor Emmanuel Botlhale felt that it was unfortunate because TK happens to be President Khama’s brother.
“What people seem to forget is that TK is a BDP politician like any other party member and whatever he does I don’t want to read too much into it as he is free to stand for any party position of his choice,” argued Botlhale.
Botlhale does not believe the young Khama could be riding on his brother’s popularity.
“There is no evidence that TK is being pushed by his elder brother to contest for party positions more so that he remains a closed book as he has decided to play his political cards very close to his chest,” observed Botlhale.
Botlhale is not aware of any constraints preventing him (TK) to run for any party position including the presidency adding that being the President’s brother does not prevent him from exercising his democratic right as an individual.
As far as Botlhale is concerned, Khama has never nudged his younger brother to stand for any position.
“If he qualifies, he should follow any political ambition without fear from any quarters.”
Since the President has assured the nation that Masisi is not a caretaker VP, “then we can’t read too much from TK’s maneuvers.”