Show me one politician who left the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and joined any opposition party who had kind words for the party and its leadership. Even if they returned, they would have had harsh words for the party. And show me any politician who left an opposition party to join the other and who did not have harsh words for his previous party. I am asking these questions because there is a discontentment of sorts particularly from the BDP that former President Ian Khama is talking badly about this Republic and its leadership particularly its President M.E.K. Masisi and therefore not patriotic. In the current cabinet, Minister Morwaeng was at some point a BDP member who resigned to join other opposition parties before re-joining the BDP. When he was in the opposition, he would have talked harshly and badly about the BDP.
Politicians from the same parties all over the world have had disagreements-turned-fallout of whatever nature to the point where they part company with some joining other parties or forming their own. Subsequent to their parting company, they criticise each other. At some point, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were the President and the Vice President of Kenya. It is recorded that during some days, they would wear white shirts and red ties as if they would have discussed the dress code. At the time Kenyatta retired from the presidency, the two were sworn enemies to the point of the former drastically reducing the former’s security at his Karen, Nairobi residence. When Ruto took over the presidency last year, he is reported to have returned the favour by also reducing the security detail at the residencies of Kenyatta’s mother and son. Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa are fighting their own political battles after serving as both the President and Deputy President of South Africa. The person who brought Khama out of the barracks into politics, Rre Festus Mogae himself sharply criticised him while in far-away Tanzania in 2014 during a CNBC interview. A Botswana based weekend spreadsheet quoted Rre Mogae at the time to have said in the said interview that ‘….what is happening is that the present regime does not respect the rule of law: it is inward looking’. When the UDC was preparing to launch its election petitions after the 2019 general election, Boko addressed a presser in Johannesburg carried by one of the South African television news channel in the company of Paul O’Sullivan. Neither Boko’s nor Rre Mogae’s pressers were such a big deal requiring government’s rebuttals at every turn.
The only difference between Khama and other opposition politicians is that he is the only former President of the Republic who after his presidency, left the BDP to form his own party. The Constitution or any law do not preclude him from participating in active politics after leaving office. The creators of the Constitution I want to believe, did not anticipate that a former President would become a full time politician after leaving office particularly that he would be well catered for by the State. In a way, it could be argued and perhaps justifiably so, that he is taking advantage of the fact that no legal instrument prohibits him from active politics. Nothing in my view suggests that Khama talks opposition politics different from others in that space locally. Leading opposition politicians like Hon Dumelang Saleshando and Advocate Duma Boko talk the same opposition language as does Khama. These two gentlemen are consistent in tearing into the BDP and its leader on all manner of political issues.
Even before Khama relocated to South Africa in November 2021, he was still critical of the President vowing to ensure that he is removed from office. He has continued the criticism in South Africa and elsewhere to this day. Politicians from the ruling party will be quick to label opposition politicians who harshly criticise them like Khama as unpatriotic. It is a normal political speak here and elsewhere from political parties in power. If Khama is unpatriotic, it should follow that Saleshando and Boko are not patriotic. I find this proposition bizarre if not outrageous that when opposition politicians sharply and harshly criticise the party in government, they are labelled unpatriotic. I would appreciate the characterisation if Khama was revealing classified State secrets he was privileged to know by virtue of his position as a former President. In fact that would not be unpatriotic but treasonous.
I do not understand what the discontentment is all about when Khama criticises his political opponent as an opposition politician whether in South Africa or elsewhere. He is in opposition politics and talking opposition language. President Masisi is always criticising him directly and indirectly when the opportunity presents itself. Much as Khama and Rre Mogae had a fall-out of their own so is him and Masisi. Let us apply the same criticism to the same set of facts. Politicians elsewhere have run away from their political opponents who are in power claiming their lives are in danger. This will not start or stop with Khama. Mnangagwa ran away from Mugabe to seek refuge in South Africa claiming his life was in danger as well. I am merely offering a different perspective to the discontentment. As long as Khama does not disclose classified information that could render the country’s national security at risk, I am more than content. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise as always. Judge for Yourself!
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