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Tshekedi fights BDP on Khama lineage stigma

Former President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama’s younger brother, Tshekedi Khama has stated that he should not be denied being President or Vice President of the Republic, because of his family lineage.

Tshekedi, who is also the son to Botswana’s founding President Sir Seretse Khama, emphasised that his Khama lineage should not be used against him in deciding his next destiny with regard to the leadership of both the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the country. Speaking to Weekend Post this week, Tshekedi stressed: “I think I should not be denied any opportunity because of my Khama lineage. The bottom line is I am a Motswana too, like everybody else and therefore, I too should be given an equal chance.”

Tshekedi, who is also the second in line in the Bangwato chieftaincy throne, after Ian Khama, continued: “I always wonder that, are people so determined that just because I am a Khama, the name Khama, therefore I will or should suffer.” In addition he stressed that he wants to tell the current BDP leadership that they should, “leave my lineage out of it.” “I am Tshekedi. When I ask for assistance from the party, I should be assisted accordingly like anybody else.”

According to the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism; “no one should think their position should make them big-headed in anyway.” He said of Balopi, the BDP Secretary General: “you were elected to be there and serve the party in that capacity. So you have to behave when you are there.” Tshekedi added that he believes Balopi does not want to assist him properly because he is a Khama.

Tshekedi has since informed party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane about Balopi’s behaviour, who in-turn instructed Balopi to make amends. “I will meet with both Masisi and Balopi again to indicate to them that I am very concerned about state of affairs in the party. I do not agree with what is happening in the BDP at the moment.”

Tshekedi also remembered during the interview that at some point there was speculation that Moyo Guma, Nonofo Molefhi, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and himself wanted the Vice Presidency. “I have nothing signed in paper that I will be VP to Masisi. But it does not trouble me at all.”

TSHEKEDI BELIEVES BOGOSI STILL HAS INFLUENCE IN POLITICS

Tshekedi is of the view that bogosi still has a massive influence and impact in Botswana’s politics. He justified: “Batswana like their Dikgosi as we have seen Batawana Kgosi Tawana Moremi easily winning elections in Maun West; the same with Lotlaamoreng Montshioa of the Barolong in Goodhope/Mabule constituency.”

According to TK, “Batswana like their Dikgosi and it is a good thing because Bogosi came before parliamentary democracy where there is a president, ministers and so forth. So through our Dikgosi we should not forget that that is where our democracy started, through kgotla system, and we should respect that.”


HOW DOES TSHEKEDI VIEW THE MASISI PRESIDENCY?

“I do not have a problem with President Masisi [Mokgweetsi]. He brought me back to cabinet. And I am glad for that,” Tshekedi told this publication.  He observed that Masisi never displayed anything towards him although others in cabinet do. “They read sinister moves since am the former president’s brother. Sometimes you get the feeling that you are not with your colleagues (ba koo o koo). The way I see it, I think they believe that my allegiance is not with Masisi but still with Khama.”

He continued to point out; “but I give him (Masisi) same respect, I did the same to Khama when he was president. People just want to sow seeds of discord between President Masisi and myself. But I refuse to entertain that.” He explained that he does not discriminate Masisi because he is from the South and so detests this North/South narrative for the BDP leadership.

“You know if I can tell you now, I wanted to stand for BDP Chairmanship in 2015 at Mmadinare when Masisi was VP. I went to Khama to tell him of my intention, and Masisi also had indicated that he wants to stand. So, for Khama it was a challenge on his side and was caught up between a brother and VP,” he highlighted.

He said, “to put things into perspective; Tebelelo Seretse, Moemedi Dijeng and myself are from Serowe and we all wanted to stand for BDP chairmanship. Then it is at that time that I decided not to stand because it would seem like North/South battle.” Tshekedi explained that for starters he is related to Seretse. “And so I told Masisi of my intention not to stand. So, if it was an issue of North/South divide as suspected, I was the first to recognise that and took a decision to distill that myth.”

The minister also confirmed to Weekend Post that, “Yes, it is true that I was accused by some northerners especially some Bangwato that I have given the chairmanship to a Southerner. They could not believe it. I was shocked upon hearing this. I felt let down that some people are unable to let other people prosper just because they are from somewhere.”


For me, Tshekedi observed: “I had a father, Sir Seretse and a brother Ian as Presidents, and I have realised that when people become presidents some people change towards them. When you leave presidency you also see your real friends. In addition, former presidents must also be awarded respect.”

He however said Masisi and Khama are different in terms of leadership, in that Khama has a military background and therefore his character was in line with that. He said it appears that Masisi’s main focus is also on education as he is a teacher by profession, and he sees a research persona in him; and that he wants to diversify the economy more and turn the country into a knowledge-based economy.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO BELIEVE TK LEAKS CABINET SECRETS TO KHAMA?

Tshekedi emphasized to this publication that he will continue to starve Khama cabinet decisions. “So, those who think that, because ex-President Khama is my brother, therefore I will tell him cabinet secrets are misled.” Tshekedi pointed out that, “It is not allowed to tell anyone, including my brother Khama. We conform to secrecy in cabinet. I even took an oath for it. Even Khama knows. He knows he cannot ask me anything concerning cabinet.”

TSHEKEDI REMINISCES HOW HIS PARENTS, SERETSE AND RUTH SUFFERED

Tshekedi took time to reminisce the old days when his parents were banished from Botswana in 1950, after his father married a white woman, Ruth Williams. “I know that sometimes as a Khama, I get attacked for no good reason. But when am attacked, it is nowhere near what my parents suffered. It is nothing. My parents went through a lot,” Tshekedi fumed.  

WHY TSHEKEDI IS ABSENT IN HIS CONSTITUENCY

The Bangwato royal believes he is more absent in the constituency as he is busy with his ministerial portfolio. “You know, I have no assistant Minister at my Ministry. And mind you we remain the second biggest earner outside the country (tourism), so I really work hard at the ministry,” he said.  

TK: “so, sometimes I don’t frequently go to the constituency like I should, and when I go there I talk to Bangwato and they really understand about the matter. In fact even if I go there they never complain. Those who say are the branch committee which I am not in good terms with.”  

TSHEKEDI STILL FEELS UNANSWERED BY THE BDP AND COURT

Following his defeat at the hands of BDP at court, which ruled against him and allowed Dijeng to contest, Tshekedi says he is still unanswered by both the party and court. He still feels confused even thought he went on to win Serowe West BDP primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe with 2,797 votes against Dijeng’s 1,594 and 462 allotted to Keletso Rakhudu.

He told Weekend Post: “let me tell you I am still confused or concerned. My question is still not answered. My issue is the BDP does not allow campaigns to commence before primary elections are called. Campaigns happen after elections are officially called. So I am still yet to see clarity from the party whilst the party disciplinary committee has found Dijeng guilty. If you are guilty you are not allowed to stand for elections. So how can they find you guilty and not take a decision?”

The Serowe West legislator said what Dijeng did, by campaigning before the race was declared open, it means it was a disadvantage on other competitors, Rakhudu and him. “So it is not fair for us now. We should all be equal.” In 2014, he narrated that he wrote to the party but he was still not given an answer.

 “What is the value of the constitution then? So I am still disappointed because I do not know why this. I am more sensitive to it because it happened before. We have set a bad precedence. I, or anybody, can do that next time. Anybody can do as they please really. It is not about the individual, Tshekedi or anyone; it’s about the laws of the BDP.”

On why he took the party to court, and thus facing potential suspension, he said he believes it is everybody’s constitutional right to challenge things which they do not understand. “I wrote a letter to the BDP to ask for a meeting before I went to court and so I believe I covered myself there. I should not be seen as an enemy of the party.

When someone is aggrieved, they should be addressed properly. If they do not answer us satisfactorily they are the ones tarnishing the BDP’s image.” He warned Balopi that, “guys be careful as you don’t own anything including this party. Be nice to people when you are up as you will meet them when you go down.”

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