Botsawa’s former president could be a candidate to watch out for in the nation’s upcoming general elections. Ian Khama who is exiled stands for presidency of his party next month.
He claims his successor has become a threat to democracy. In South Africa since 2021, Khama says he possesses intelligence information on plans to arrest and poison him if he returned home. He believes the authorities fear his influence.
“They fear, have got, still a lot of influence on the people of Botswana to be able to sway them, not that they need swaying, I think they have pretty much made up their own minds now that regime change should take place.”
The row between the pair started immediately after Khama resigned in 2018 at the end of his constitutional limit of two five-year terms when Masisi started reversing some key policies adopted during Khama’s tenure.
Months later, and in the run up to the last elections, Khama dramatically quit the long-ruling Botswana Democratic Party, which had been co-founded by his father Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president.
Once in Botswana where elections are due next year Khama should bolster the opposition into a coalition to beat incumbent president Masisi in the ballot box.
“I have to fix the mistake I made in appointing Masisi to be my successor, and it’s important that before the elections I try and join with the other parties to ensure that he and his party are removed,” he says.
‘Democracy rocked'”Botswana has been a democracy, right from independence, we had a very good reputation for democracy, we were a shining light on the African continent, we were renowned worldwide for our adherence to democracy and then you get this one man who comes in one day and just overturns everything,” said Khama.
“And this is the Botswana version of Donald Trump in Masisi.”
Both Masisi and the government’s spokesmen did not respond to AFP’s request for a comment on Khama’s claims.
“We thought we had built enough foundation that could not be rocked when it came to our democracy, but we have found out that it just takes one man in that position to reverse all the gains that we have made and sweated for many years,” he said.
In preparation for his return, he says he has undergone a full medical check and updated his will because he strongly believes that within days of arriving he will be locked up.
Former retirement plansWhen he retired from power, the former senior military officer said he had intended to pursue conservation charity work, farming and that politics was not on his radar.
“When I left office, I intended to completely leave politics but here I’m now more involved in politics than even when I was president because I’m determined to make sure this man (Masisi) goes,” he said.
In an address to a ruling BDP rally in Khama’s home district late January, Masisi struck a reconciliatory note.
“I pray to God for us to meet at some point… to ask for each other’s forgiveness,” the president said speaking in Tswana.
“It was a huge mistake, one that I think we are all regretting as a country, because he’s totally undermined democracy, human rights, the rule of law, interfered with the judiciary.”
On December 29 last year Botswana issued an arrest warrant for Khama, alleging unlawful possession of firearms.
In an address to a ruling party rally in January, Masisi struck a reconciliatory note.