… Could still return motivated by his desire to dethrone Masisi
ADAM PHETLHE ON SUNDAY
Former President General Ian Khama officially crossed into South Africa on 8 November 2021 reportedly on a private visit. Some have said he is running away from the long arm of the law while some have said much should not be read into the trip. Given that news of national interest or importance divides the nation, the choice on the characterisation of his trip is purely a personal choice. On the day he crossed into South Africa it must be said, was the day on which the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) had given him an ultimatum to surrender weapons of war it said were in his custody. It must also be said that before the ultimatum, Khama was having running battles with the intelligence agency where allegedly his and his brother’s properties were searched with such weapons seized from the latter’s property. His official residence in Gaborone lately referred to as State House 4 has been sealed by the intelligence agency with the head of his private security taken in for questioning. It has been suggested points of entry into Botswana are on high alert to presumably arrest him as soon as he crosses the border or lands at one of the airports. In short, it is fair to say General Khama is probably the most sought after individual by the DISS whose return could be scuppered by the said fear. But he could still return owing to his publicly stated desire to dethrone President Masisi. Only time will tell.
General Khama has made serious yet to be substantiated allegations against the DISS to the effect that plans are afoot to either assassinate or poison him once he has been arrested. It is fair to suggest someone in his situation could make such serious allegations because it is probable he gets sensitive information (like the assassination and poisoning story assuming but not conceding these are credible) from within the DISS itself given the support and loyalty from some within. In any event, it was founded under his watch and has been under his command, probable manipulation and influence during his tenure as the President. In this regard, therefore, he will know the inner workings of the DISS – that is, what goes on in there in terms of the methods used by the agents to extract information from the suspects and so on. The Sebele facility in which some who have been there do not talk so glowingly about should be a reminder uppermost in Khama’s mind and he should be fearful of the circumstances some would have endured where some form of harm occurred. With him being someone with inside knowledge of the DISS, he should be the first one gripped with the incredible fear of both the known and the unknown.
Needless to say, the DISS is itching to lay its hands on Khama whether lawfully or unlawfully. It has demonstrated in other circumstances that it is able to override the due process of the law. The unlawful arrest of Isaac Kgosi after the Gabanagae J judgement a while ago is the case in point. Whether through lawful or unlawful means the end result should be to put him (Khama) where he belongs and with precision and speed. The intelligence agency has tried to be ‘civil’ in putting him where he belongs by going the legal route where success thereat has been as elusive as is peace in Mali. The recent legal route to get at Khama started off at the High Court where the DISS obtained an ex parte order authorising it to search his various premises and in the process seize weapons of war. As it would later emerge, the order became problematic to enforce because Khama’s official residence in Gaborone (State House 4) was ‘erroneously’ omitted in the list of the premises to be searched. Thereafter, there was a lot of back and forth between Khama and the DISS with no tangible result for the DISS. Realising that it had not succeeded in enforcing the ex parte order, the DISS approached the Court of Appeal on the ticket of urgency where, as Gaongalelwe J.A put it, ‘The Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has brought this application seeking an order directing that the appeal in which they are challenging a High Court judgement delivered on 21st November 2021 be heard as an expedited appeal’. In the final analysis, Gaongalelwe J.A dismissed this matter, saying it had failed to pass the urgency test and that it should follow the usual court processes and procedures.
Having failed to nail Khama so far, the DISS should be red-faced to do whatever is possible under the sun to not only come close to Khama but to finally nail him. One cannot begin to comprehend what will follow thereafter. Apart from the DISS nailing Khama as an institution, its Director-General Peter Magosi who was himself fired by him from the Botswana Defence Force allegedly on account of indiscipline, still potentially has a score to settle with him. And the current pursuit of him by the DISS cannot be a perfect platform to settle such a score. It is a golden opportunity that has presented itself the misuse of which could spell doom to the settling of the score.
But having argued that Khama is fearful of coming back owing to his assassination and poisoning claims, he may still afterall be brave to come back. This will be motivated by his burning desire which is to ensure that President Masisi does not win a second term in the 2024 general election. This desire disappeared in front of his very eyes up in the 2019 general election. Without beating about the bush, Khama, just like Jacob Zuma who is facing his own legal and political problems in South Africa, commands fairly reasonable support in the country. He is credited in large measure with the loss of the traditional and historical constituencies Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) comfortably retained over the last eleven general elections in the Central District. It is generally expected that with opposition parties united and singing from the same Hymn book more than ever before, the influence of Khama as an added advantage could be what the doctor ordered to ensure that Masisi falls in 2024. Further to this, Khama could just be motivated to return and be arrested, assassinated or poisoned. If these were to occur while in the custody of Masisi’s government through the DISS, Masisi would be held personally liable for his demise and God forbid. Without saying it, they could have irreversible and huge political ramifications for Masisi in particular and the BDP in general let alone the international community.
While the risks and fears of returning to Botswana by Khama could arguably be said to far outweigh those of returning owing to the irreparable harm he could suffer at the hands of the DIS on his version, the former proposition will be uppermost in his mind. He will be well aware that even if his demise in one form or the other could be pursued with the attendant local and international ramifications, such demise would define the end of him on the planet. It could very well be argued gov’t is aware of the ramifications she could suffer should Khama be harmed in one way or the other while in her custody. But history is replete with information and evidence of people with similar status to Khama eliminated while under the custody of intelligence and other security agencies. The said ramifications count for nothing as long as the mission is accomplished. Like they would say, the jury is still out whether Khama will be returning anytime soon as his Foundation has said or not. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise as always. Judge for Yourself! Send your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘No one is safe until everyone is safe’. It is in our hands to ensure we keep Covid-19 numbers as low as possible considering what we went through after last year’s festive holidays.