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The epic betrayal of the social contract

Ernest Moloi

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My brother's keeper: In happier times both leaders read from the same script and the handshake was firm. The Midweek Sun challenges them to address a Joint Press Conference

The prolonged feuding between President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Dr. Ian Khama suggests an existence of two centres of power in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and by extension, Government.

And at the rate it’s going, the standoff threatens to ruin the party’s electoral fortunes in next year’s general elections, unless swift and drastic action is taken. Worse still, the clash could undermine the country’s governance credentials in the eyes of the international community with disastrous results for our economy.

Khama’s intransigence defies logic, considering that he has spurned reconciliation efforts by the party’s Committee of Elders, which comprises men of integrity that have distinguished themselves not only in the party, but also in public service.

Former president Festus Mogae; former Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe; former Speakers of the National Assemnly Ray Molomo and Patrick Balopi and former Cabinet Minister and distinguished lawyer-cum-estate mogul, David Magang have hit a brick wall in their attempts to reconcile Khama with President Masisi.

Deflated and anguished, Masisi was compelled to concede in his inaugural State of the Nation Address that the transition of power from Khama to him had not been smooth as expected in spite of the engagement of these senior citizens to “smoothen the process.”

But what really is the nature of the conflict between the two men? Even before Masisi ascended to the presidency on April 1, 2018 media speculations had flown thick and fast that the two men had engaged in some form of agreement. The nature of concessions that Masisi undertook or promised Khama remains a closely-guarded secret to this day, since neither of the men has publicly stated it.
It can however be adduced from the potshots that both men have taken at each other in their various media interviews and public speeches, that the concession revolved around Khama’s succession plan. Even before his term as president expired, Khama’s succession plan had endured a scathing public diagnosis by the media and academia.

It’s always been an open secret that Khama wanted his younger brother, Tshekedi to succeed him, but he couldn’t openly bring himself to concede this, since it would have confirmed the suspicions, fear and insecurity that the public and BDP’s faithful harboured – that they want to turn this republic into a Khama dynasty!Surely this required careful treading on the part of Khama – himself a strategist par excellence whose swift rise to the pinnacle of both the military and country’s political architecture is second to none. Here is a man accustomed to leading and the trappings of leadership.

In the army, he rose to be the Commander; in the party he rose to be the Chairman and President; in the tribe of BaNgwato, he was born into royalty and consequently draped with the lion’s skin to become the King; while in the republic, he rose to become the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.In order to execute his plan, Khama had to out-think; outsmart and outdo his compatriots first in the party and secondly, circumnavigate Parliament especially the quarrelsome Opposition bench by rendering the principle of separation of powers moribund or at best inconsequential.

And he succeeded! Khama’s conspicuous absence at Parliament and complete disregard for Parliamentary oversight, which bordered on indiffrence, is legendary.Aware that the country’s civil society isn’t that vibrant, his other major concern was to alienate the Media, Trade Unions as well as the lawyers and academia. Once he had passed this hurdle, it was easy for the captured BDP majority, which felt eternally beholden to Khama – to pass nocturnal laws that favoured him under the guise of what communists would call democratic centralism.

BDP was captured and eternally beholden to Khama on account of the personal sacrifice he made when he quit his first love (military) and reluctantly joined politics to save the sinking BDP ship.
Little wonder that immediately upon joining politics, Khama extracted some concessions from then President Festus Mogae, which included a carteblanche Cabinet portfolio; Sabbatical leave and permission to fly BDF aircraft in clear violation of the law – as would later be confirmed by the late Ombudsman, Lethebe Maine.

Khama presided over both the BDP and government apparatus with such a canny flourish claiming the scalps of his detractors and winning reluctant admirers among the fickle and gullible masses of the people with his new brand of homegrown ‘people-centred political approach.’But the writing was always on the wall. Flashpoints became apparent in the alcohol levy; the excesses of the DIS; conspicuous military spending; populist pet projects; iron fist rule over the party and consolidation of executive powers – the sum total of which were interpreted as limitation or constriction of the democratic space.

The euphoria that attended Khama’s farewell tour beginning last year and ending this year March was unmatched. Beguiled crowds hugged the Kgotla whereever he went, and hung to every word he uttered. Most of all, the people wanted to hear what Khama would do post-presidency. The country learnt he would be known as ‘former president, that he had been appointed Champion of Vision 2036; Patron of the Arts and Culture; Football and Softball; and that he would continue his philanthropic housing appeal under a new name, now that he’d no longer be president.
Khama told the multitudes that thronged his meetings that he would help his regent, Sediegeng Kgamane with the work of tribal administration in Serowe.

Or he could hibernate from the murky, rough and tumble quicksands of politics, where there are no permanent friends or foes by taking up the challenge of his newfound status as a ‘master farmer’ to care for the immense wealth in livestock that he had made in a blink of an eye from the outpouring of Batswana’s profuse love and generosity. But no sooner had Masisi – Khama’s anointed successor – been sworn in and the new President begun to exercise his constitutional powers than Khama started some intrigues, playing behind the scenes and acting the victim – only to eventually declare publicly that Masisi had ‘betrayed him.’

Initially the nation felt pity for the former president thinking that the incumbent president was deliberately denying him his perks as per the law, but once this veil had been removed, it became apparent to all and sundry, that Khama’s was a power struggle with Masisi over an unfulfilled promise. Masisi gave a hint during his SONA when he declatred: “We should as a nation pride ourselves in the fact that we are a mature democracy owing mainly to our steadfast commitment to upholding the fundamental values that have become the hallmark of our democratic dispensation, which include tolerance, consultation, mutual respect and the rule of law.

“It is also incumbent upon each and every one of us to demonstrate the spirit of unity and patriotism in order to preserve harmony, peace and stability. We should jealously guard against the erosion or diminishing of the international track record that as a nation, we have earned over the past five decades as a beacon of democracy, peace and good governance.”

On this score, President Masisi is challeneged to prove his patriotism by coming out publicly to tell the nation what concessions he had made with Khama prior to assuming the presidency. Anything less would amount to an epic betrayal of the social contract that both Masisi and Khama have entered into with Batswana.

Meanwhile, members of the Intelligence Community and the Security forces must endeavour at all costs to remain apolitical and to accord the incumbent president the honour that is rightfully his for the interest of this country’s peace and stability. As for the BDP, it must amend its Constitution and brace for its most dramatic congress in 2019 as it prepares for a general election whose prospects for victory grow dimmer by the day. The party must heed calls for the review of the Republic’s Constitution to do away with ‘Automatic Succession.’

Let’s wait and see who will be BDP president, will it be Masisi, Khama or Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi? Or if the North/South divide will rear its ugly head to haunt the BDP with the party faithful voting along tribal lines!

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I BUY NO POWERS

Yvonne Mooka

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Many will remember Apostle Joel Keitumele as Ntsoro the comedian who would leave people in stitches with his rib-cracking jokes.

Now an apostle who leads Heavenly International Soul church with his wife Amo Keitumele, he confided in The Midweek Sun that he has never bought powers to make himself and his church powerful as it is often alleged by members of the public.

Two years ago, there were allegations that he had lost his mind after he failed to honour an agreement with a seller of powers in Ghana. “They were saying I was mentally disturbed and that I was being tormented by a snake because I dishonoured an agreement from a seller of powers in Ghana. I have never been to Ghana and the rumours were baseless,” he said, adding that someone even lied that his aunt works at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital and had seen Keitumele at the hospital.

He also recalled the time he was invited at Btv with now born again Shumba Ratshega. He was wearing two rings. “One was my wedding ring and the other on my right hand was a Versace. A caller asked why I was wearing the other one and there were talks that it’s for powers.” He said he took it off and gave it to the presenter to wear and that nothing happened to him.

Lately, there are allegations that he wears an eagle belt, known in street lingo as ‘Prophetic belt’and purpoted to have powers to increase miracles in church and to attract more people. It is won by several other pastors and prophets among them, Shepherd Bushiri, Alph Lukau, Passion Java and Eubert Angel. He confirmed that he has it. He however said there is nothing like a prophetic belt or prophetic shoes.

“Of recent, God released a cloud of young prophets and these like their older mentors or spiritual fathers are stylish and they like fashion. “We have tapped into that. So most of us have Versace shoes, Eagle belts because we like looking good. People refer to them as ‘Prophetic this and that’ but there is nothing prophetic about them.

It’s just that we like them but we don’t need them for powers,” he said. Keitumele confirmed that he sells the trending shoes and belts at his store in Gaborone. “We just like our belts. Nothing more. The power is in the price. Monna ke monna ka setlhako le lebante,” he said.

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LEGABIBO challenges same sex criminalisation in court tomorrow

Keletso Thobega

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The Gaborone High Court will tomorrow (Thursday) hear a case on the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Advocacy group, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals in Botswana, with the support of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre is challenging Botswana laws on homosexuality. Judges Dube, Leburu, and Tafa will hear this matter from the bench. LEGAGIBO is admitted as a friend of the court.

In May last year, a gay man only identified as ‘LM’ filed a petition with the High Court, arguing that the anti-homosexual laws in Botswana are unconstitutional. In the papers, he argued that decriminalising homosexuality is a human right and is important for everyone to feel safe and welcomed.

“Decriminalising homosexuality is about people’s lives, freedom and their right to live the life they want to and deserve. It is not only about the choice to choose who to love and sleep with but it is also about social security.” A media statement from the two parties indicates that LEGAGIBO seeks to advance submissions before the full bench of the High Court on the practical effect and social impact that sections 164 (a), 164 (c) and 167 of the Penal Code have on the daily lives and experiences of LGBT persons.

“Particularly, the submission illustrates how the criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct limits LGBT person’s ability to access basic social services, increases their chances to discrimination and infringes on their basic human rights,” it reads.

It further states that “Botswana is a diverse society and the Constitution protects the freedom and dignity of all persons in the country, regardless of whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex.” The press release notes that “Over the past three years, the Botswana courts have shown themselves to be champions of jurisprudence which acknowledges the rights of LGBT persons and their rights to equal protection before the law.”

Section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code stipulates in part that, ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is outlawed.’ Those convicted are liable to imprisonment of up to seven years.

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