By Meekaeel Siphambili* —
Gaborone, Botswana: Botswana has been the envy of many countries for its peace and tranquility and that will soon end as Ian Khama Seretse Khama, former president is taking the government to court. Ian Khama Seretse Khama has openly discredit Mokgweetsi Masisi, president of Botswana who is his former vice president.
Ian Khama, 65, stepped down on March 31, 2018 giving the reins of the diamond rich country to 55 year old Masisi, his vice president after a ten year rule. The former president and the president once enjoyed a rosy relationship which soured after the Mokgweetsi Masisi fired Ian Khama’s main man, the leader of the feared Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS). The other strains to the rosy relationship are the former president’s love for use of state airplanes which President Mokgweetsi Masisi has denied him. Khama, an ex-soldier who enjoys piloting the state airplanes and helicopters was denied the use of the state chopper several times and the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Air wing was instructed not to allow Khama into any of the military planes.
According to a report in the Sunday Standard, Ian Khama was denied a military helicopter in the month of July when he want to use it for a trip to Serowe village, his home village. The former president who is also Bangwato tribe paramount chief wanted to use the helicopter to attend a soup event with some of the Bangwato chiefs in Serowe. This came after another rejected request to fly to a social soccer event in Mosu village in the Boteti area where Khama has a farm and holiday home.
Former president Khama is well known for abuse of state property and his dictatorship habits which were always swept under the carpet for fear of victimization by his Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS). During his presidency, Khama once ordered Botswana Defence Force equipment to be used in his farm in Mosu. The military earth moving machinery was ordered by the Khama to clear an airstrip at his farm. The media and the general was silenced by Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) and cautioned never to say anything about this abuse of state property.
Isaac Kgosi, the fired leader of Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) and his agents had a ten year long reign of terror throughout the country which left a trail of bodies. People vanished during Khama’s rule and only one murder by the fearsome Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) agents made the headlines in the country. John Kalafatis was the son of Greek immigrants who was killed gangster style when DIS agents opened fire on him at a shopping complex in Gaborone in May 2009. This hit by the DIS is the only murder that made headlines but the public feared talking openly about it.
Isaac Kgosi was fired after he told the Botswana parliament that he was ‘untouchable and does not answer to anyone’. Kgosi, Khama’s ‘dirty errand boy’ was being grilled about the biggest financial scandal in Botswana which involves about P326 million from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). Ian Khama Seretse Khama and Isaac Kgosi are implicated in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal which is still an ongoing trial.
The DIS has since lost it intimidating powers after the ‘spy boss’ was fired by President Masisi, and once again there is freedom of speech in the country and these among other things is what has soured of Khama and Masisi.
Surprisingly Khama wanted to hire Isaac Kgosi as his private secretary after he was hired by Masisi but that could not go well with the state president as all the former presidents’ staff salaries are paid by the Botswana government. Khama could not have his wish of hiring his ‘dirty errands boy’ as his ‘private secretary’, this added fuel to the fire.
Sometime in July, Khama decided to sneak out of the country and fly to the United States (US) to a Conservation International (CI) board meeting without informing OP. The trip came as surprise for the Office of the President because according to permanent secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi, “This practice has been put in place to ensure that adequate courtesies, including protocol arrangements, are extended to facilitate the movements of our former presidents when they are outside of the country, which the law entitles them to a maximum of four State-funded international trips per annum.”
Khama said he finds it “strange” that Masisi wants him to report to him about his travels while his [Khama] predecessors were never required to inform OP about their travels.
The former president also highlighted that he is a “private citizen who is only bound by the Constitution and therefore not subjected to the strictures of the Green Book which applies to government functionaries”.
Speaking to Mmegi newspaper on August 2, through his lawyers, Ian Khama former president said “with respect to the relationship with the Office of the President (OP), we are instructed that the relationship is not as cordial as it should or ought to be”.
However Masisi has turned out to be the masses’ favorite president after a ten year reign of fear by Ian Khama who hiked beer prices and has not raised salaries in the country for the past ten years. Masisi did not always agree with policies by Khama, including the alcohol levy, but knew that it was his duty to support the sitting president during his days as Khama’s vice president. During Khama’s tenure, Masisi had served loyally and it was Khama’s expectation that the Masisi presidency will be an extension of his but Masisi is reversing a lot of things.
But once in power Masisi has worked strenuously to assert his political identity, often reversing some of Khama’s signature policy and also sacking and transferring some of Khama’s key lieutenants.
Face book comments on the former president’s behavior prove that Batswana were happy to see him go and they not at all please about him going against President Mokgweetsi Masisi or taking the government to court.
“I think Ian Khama is bitter because Masisi is a better leader than him. He should enjoy his life as a private citizen and let Masisi be, nobody bothered him when he was president” said one Face book user.
*African article based in Botswana.