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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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UNLIKELY SIGHT: Former DIS Director Isaac Kgosi was arrested on Tuesday night by DIS agents led by his successor Peter Magosi

The arrest of founding Head of Directorate of Intelligence and Securty Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) Tuesday night adds a new twist in the ominously dangerous local political climate.

Kgosi was arrested in the airport lobby as he pushed his luggage trolley immediately on arrival from South Africa yesterday night by DISS agents led by the new spy boss, Peter Magosi.
He was then handed what appeared to be an arrest warrant, which he read before being handcuffed amidst protestations that the DISS had invited the Press to embarrass him in a public spectacle.
After a brief spell Kgosi succumbed and was whisked away to Mogositshane Police Station where he would be read his charges. He was overheard telling Magosi he was going to “topple this government, I promise you,” a threat which in law constitutes treason.

At the time of writing, Kgosi’s lawyer Unoda Mack and one of Kgosi’s close relatives were said to be at the airport. The arrest happened on the fifth day of President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s private visit to his Mozambican colleague, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi. Masisi is due to arrive home today Wednesday January 16th.

Kgosi’s arrest is bound to exacerbate the rift between President Dr. Masisi and his predecessor, Dr. Ian Khama. Their feud – initially over a perceived refusal of the state to avail Khama air travel for his personal and official chores – broke irretrievably when Masisi fired Isaac Kgosi from the public service.To make matters worse, Masisi also declined Khama’s overtures to hire Kgosi as his Private Secretary. Parallel to this feuding, the state was busy investigating corruption and money laundering charges against Kgosi and his alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.

Kgosi was appointed by Khama during the latter’s presidency. He is not only a close personal friend of Khama but also worked with him at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). A renowned sniper (marksman), Kgosi’s DISS was the embodiment of fear.

The spy agency was described as a law unto itself and despised for eavesdropping on people’s conversations and alleged acts of terror including extra-judicial killings. His arrest and possible prosecution during an election year signals the state’s unflinching commitment to instil the rule of law and restore public confidence in oversight institutions.However, this could provoke a long drawn-out battle between the antagonistic factionsof the ruling Botswana Democratic Party – the pro-Khama New Jerusalem and pro-Masisi Cava – with the sum effect of compromising public service delivery. It is no secret Kgosi is on the side of Khama, and that Khama depends on Kgosi for his exploits.

Yet again, the arrest is the administrtaion’s unambigous message that it has thrown down the gauntlet for the perceived purveyors of corruption to take up. It remains to be seen how Kgosi will react. He allegedly told Magosi Tuesday night, “You are forcing me to do things I never intended to do,” what these things are, is known only to him. However, on the political front there is general foreboding that feeds the lust of doomsday prophets.

The country’s eminent citizens among them the thrid president, Festus Mogae as well as former Vice Presiddent Ponatshego Kedikilwe and property magnate, David Magang have joined the fray on the side of President Masisi in the protracted Khama/Masisi impasse. And just like at the height of the legal brawl between the State and former Debswana boss, Louis Nchindo – Mogae will not harbour any secrets – not least concerning Khama’s ill-fated succession plan and Masisi’s role in it.

Suddenly, the internal power struggle in the BDP has become a national security threat and a cancer that threatens to eat away the gains made in the country’s 53 year history as a democracy.
Conversely, it has emboldened others and awakened the allure of contestation in former minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi for the party’s presidency at this year’s July national congress, which thing, some watchers dismiss as “absurd” while other pundits, such as foreign minister Unity Dow, see Mma Venson as a decoy or proxy for Khama’s grand comeback to the presidency.

Khama has however denied attempts at pulling a ‘Putin”- that is, returning to the presidency after his constitutional term has expired.
Just as the Sybilline Oracle warned the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar about the Ides of March, the BDP was forewarned by a Zambian ‘seer’or prophet; long ago about its eventual collapse, which is eerily becoming imminent with the passage of time.

Some may say, the Botswana Democratic Party made its bed when it recruited Khama into politics from the military and must now lie on it. But the reality is that the Khama/Masisi feud risks tearing the county asunder. A Tswana dictum counsels that there can be no two bulls in a kraal at the same time, and in like manner, there can be no two presidents in a republic or two centres of power. This is the warning that all the eminent BDP leaders have sounded to the nation and the party.

President Dr. Masisi stirred the hornet’s nest and rattled the interest of white monopoly capital last year when at the height of the elephant poaching scandal, that made international headlines, he disamrmed the Wildlife Protection Unit.

He also had the audacity to set up a plebiscite to gauge the people’s views regarding the ban on wildlife hunting, which had been a permanent feature of the past adminstration. The disarming of the Unit particularly carried a sting with Khama, himself an avowed conservationist and distinguished fellow of Conservation International. And all these actions that seem to go against the wishes of Khama and his loyalists, threaten to plunge the country into a state of disrepair, for they will not take the latest arrest lying down. Khama will surely react, and the nation should be on the alert.

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Woman raped by another woman in BMW

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A woman can rape another woman in Botswana. This was recently brought to light by one of the victims as the debate about the escalating and shocking rape cases that continue to grip the nation.

Most often attention is always on incidents where men rape men or men rape women, but while it is something that is happening, a woman raping a woman is somewhat seen as taboo. Model and businesswoman Julie Juice Tsile recently found the courage to talk about her harrowing experience at the hands of a trusted member of society, who also happens to be married. In a post shared on January 9th on Facebook, Tsile narrated how the perpetrator is a married woman, someone’s mother, and a mutual friend to some. It all started when the woman whom she refers to as Goaba asked her to accompany her to collect something from the car.

The two were attending an event with friends. “I had just met her through a friend. So, if a married woman asks you to go to the car with her, you can never think of anything right, you somehow feel safe right,” she says in the post.

Things took a different turn when they arrived at the car.
Goaba asked her to get inside the car, which she did unaware that her companion had an ulterior motive. She admits that on the day, she had been drinking but was not drunk, and that the car was parked in the car park area. After all, she could see the security people not far from where they were.

Tsile also notes that in her head, she was thinking that the woman was asking her to get inside the car just to be safe. “So, I closed the door and sat on the passenger seat,” says Tsile.And that is when everything changed. Goaba kissed her on the lips, and she didn’t resist. “So, I just brushed it off thinking gore (sic) ah it’s just a kiss, women can be curious,” states Tsile. After this Tsile told Goaba that she has to go look for her friends because she had left without telling them where she was going. But this was only the beginning of her horror. Her perpetrator grabbed her hand and pulled her panty down. Tsile was wearing a short dress and Goaba started poking her genitals with her long nails.

All this time, Goaba did not say anything but she had an evil look on her face while doing it. “I was shocked, I honestly didn’t move, I froze because my mind could not digest what was happening. I then managed to push her away, opened the car and I just stood there in shock,” she explains. A security guy who was near them came towards her and asked her if they were fighting. At that point
Tsile started crying and sharing how she was raped by the woman in the white BMW.

“He was shocked, he then approached the car but the woman fled.So he called another security car to ask him to block the lady at the gate, so they started asking me to repeat the story. The other guy started laughing, until he saw blood running between my legs,” she says.Tsile has not forgotten what the woman who drives a white BMW, and is married to a white man known only as Paul did to her. “You took a piece of me from that day on,” she says.

She says she did not report at the time because she was scared and was just starting out with her business. She also wondered how her family and friends were going to react to the incident. “Lastly repeating the story, being laughed at, being asked to explain how a woman can rape you, all those things I couldn’t deal with or that I asked for it. So, beware of this woman, she is your friend, your sister probably your mother but she took away a piece of me and I hope she doesn’t do the same to any other woman out there,” she concludes her story.

The post attracted a lot of attention, and another victim came forward to share how a neighbour also did the same thing to her. Tsile told this newspaper that the matter has been reported to Central Police Station, and that she did not want to jeopardise the case. However, Head of Central Police Station (CPS) Superintendent Mothusi Phadi informed this publication that they have not received any report of this nature.

But he said that their doors were open to Tsile, and that she was welcome to come and report the matter. He assured the complainant that they would talk to her in private, and that they would treat the matter with the utmost confidentiality. “She is welcome to come and see me anytime,” he said.

Human Rights Lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi told this publication that he has heard stories of women raping other women although they have never been tested before the courts of law. He said the law in Botswana provides for rape between people of the same sex.

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