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Khama barred from using BDF facilities

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lieutenant General Placid Diratsagae Segokgo has written to former President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama notifying him that he can no longer be allowed to use the Firing Ranges, Obstacle Cause and Animal Parks facilities at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) in Mogoditshane.

In a letter dated 14th June, 2019 the BDF Commander said: “Your Excellency, it has come to our attention that you continue to use the BDF Obstacle Cause at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane. Sir in keeping with the BDF policy to all retired members of the BDF and the general members of the public I write to inform you that this facility together with other facilities such as the Firing Ranges, and Animal Park shall no longer be available to yourself except with the express invitation of the BDF.”

Former President Khama is the former Commander of the armed forces and has served the army for more than 20 years before joining politics, nine of which he was the commander. Khama had enjoyed access to Botswana Defence Force facilities as the Vice President including flying the military aircrafts. The then President Festus Mogae came to his defence saying he [Khama] is a qualified Pilot and arrangements were made for him to continue using the aircrafts.

Khama then ascended to the Presidency on 1st April 2008 and he continued to access the BDF facilities at SSKB without any problems. Upon leaving Office of the President a year ago, former President Ian Khama said prior arrangements were made so that he continue to access the Obstacle Causes once a week to train for his fitness but said he never accessed both the Firing Ranges and the Animal Park ever since he left office.

 “I notified both President Masisi and BDF Commander Placid Segokgo and it was agreed,” Khama told WeekendPost this week. Khama said he was shocked by the letter from the BDF Commander. “I wonder why it took him one year and two months to realise that. I have never visited the Animal Park or the Firing Ranges since I left office. I only visit the Obstacle Cause once a week to do my routine exercise,” he said.  Khama also said to his surprise these facilities are open to the general public and wonders why he is being singled out.

 “With my position as former president and commander of the armed forces, Patron of BDF Retired Officers, Patron of the Football team BDF XI I have a history with the Barracks,” he said. Khama said he has no doubts this has political connotations with regard to the recent political landscape in the country. The former President for the first time this year, he was not invited to the Fallen Heroes Day Commemoration in honour of massacre of soldiers at Lesoma village which took place while he was the deputy commander of the BDF.

Khama was quoted saying: “The way this kind of decision was taken, is very unusual. I would have been invited as former Commander of the army to participate in that event.” He said his routine exercises at BDF does not in anyhow interfere with the works of soldiers at the barracks. Khama said he trains alone and he is not at any risks but admit anything can happen.  “If they are concerned about my safety then they did not mention it in the letter. Besides why would they worry now while I have been doing this as a sitting President, why now,” Khama sked rhetorically.  

The former President said through his Private Secretary, he wrote back to the Commander Segokgo to correct some of the misconceptions in his letter. Asked what action he will take Khama said, “In the letter it is clear they don’t want me there so I will stop.” In 2013 during his presidency Khama was scratched by a leopard on the face a bit. Khama's attacker was at the Botswana Defense Force Animal Awareness Park, which the Khama himself established in 1989 when he was a Lieutenant General in command of Botswana's armed forces.

He began the park to teach wild animal behaviour to soldiers who were being deployed to fight poachers killing rhinos and elephants. The park, which has been opened to the public and is a favourite outing for school children, now holds lions and leopards, crocodiles and snakes, monkeys, baboons and zebras.   

Ian Khama was appointed as a brigadier general at age 24 in April 1977 during Sir Seretse Khama's Presidency, hence Deputy Commander to late former Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe, later serving as BDF Commander from 1989 until becoming Vice President in 1998. He then become the President of Botswana on 1st April 2008 leaving office in April 2018.

Upon leaving Office former President Ian Khama he had a fallout with his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi which led to him leaving the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to help form the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). Several attempts were made to reconcile the two men but the fallout escalated and the relationship became irreparable.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

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WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

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Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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