Former President Ian Khama has expressed fears that Botswana government could be planning to strip him of his citizenship while he is still in exile and declare him a Prohibited Immigrant (PI).
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday on Thursday, Khama said he has been made aware of plans mooted at the Office of the President (OP), discussed with President Mokgweetsi Masisi for him to lose Botswana citizenship. This, he said, will be undertaken under the impression that Masisi has the power to strip off any individual Botswana citizenship under the pretext that Khama holds British citizenship.
Khama, who has been in self- imposed exile in neighbouring South Africa since November 2021, said he feels targeted by the Botswana government. “The purpose behind all their harassment stems from my leaving the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) after I realized it was abandoning all its principles of democracy, tolerance and compassion and joining the opposition to unseat them from their strongholds which was successful in 2019. My vowing to ensure they are not re-elected in 2024 has infuriated the BDP leaderhship,” he said.
Furthermore, Khama said despite him and some of his siblings’ -twin brothers Tshekedi and Anthony being out of country, it has strengthened their family unity and resolve. Khama said it is totally untrue that Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has been negatively affected by his absence as its patron and that its days are numbered. “That is totally untrue. We are engaged full time as BPF. Think of Covid19 and how businesses continued to operate from home. That situation taught us a lot about interacting through virtual platforms,” he said.
According to sources close to Khama, government is said to be considering that Khama’s human rights will not be violated if he is stripped of his citizenship as he can still settle in Britain where he enjoys citizenship.
Responding to The Patriot on Sunday questionnaire, Acting Permanent Secretary Botswana Government Communications and Information, John Dipowe denied claims that Khama would lose his citizenship. “There is no truth in the allegations that His Excellency the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi intends to strip off Former President Lt Gen (Ret) Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama his citizenship. There is also no truth in that he intends to declare him a prohibited immigrant,” he stated.
Also, Dipowe said the President operates within the confines of the law and as such there is no law empowering him to strip off any citizen of their Botswana citizenship including ex-President Khama. The Government of the Republic of Botswana continues to extend all the privileges that all former Presidents are entitled to former President Khama included. As per the press release issued today ( Friday), the Government of Botswana has facilitated former President Khama’s international trip next week as per his request in accordance with the law,” buttressed Dipowe.
Khama in London
In a surprise turn of events, the Office of the President late Friday released a statement noting that Khama will be traveling on a private visit to London with release published on a state media outlets. Political observers noted that it is great milestone for Khama and government to have worked smoothly. Independent political analyst Kitso Morekisi said the tension between Khama and government has done lot of damage to the country in many aspects hence other issues don’t deserve it at all.
“Although Khama is now in opposition, the fact is that he remains former head of state and he deserves to be treated well by the government although there is where they differ. For OP to have facilitated Khama s trip to London when he requested arrangements politically we can say there is some sort of tolerance between the parties. There is still room for Khama and Masisi to reconcile,” he added.
He also said it is important for both Khama and government to desist from launching attacks on each whenever each of the parties feel aggrieved by one another as such renders state a banana republic. OP said Khama will undertake a private visit to London, United Kingdom from 26th June to 2nd July. “Subsequently, he will travel to Milan, Italy to attend the Lake Camo Retreat from 2nd to 6th July at the invitation of Brenthurst Foundation. The Brenthurst Foundation brings together experts, policy specialists and Senior Government officials to offer fresh insights into African development,” said OP.
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