Johannesburg – Botswana, an African success story of economic growth and political stability, is reeling from the latest political developments which have seen former president Ian Khama resign from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
This is the first such move by a former president in five decades and accusations of using tribal politics to further his own political agenda have been directed at him.
Khama’s dramatic resignation over the weekend was the result of deepening differences with the current administration under President Mokgweetsi Masisi, according to media reports.
The former president went as far as to assert his regrets at appointing Masisi as his successor, adding that his allegiance now lies with the country’s main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) party.
The two men have fallen out over a number of issues including a reversal by Masisi of some of Khama’s policies including alcohol taxes and the lifting of the controversial ban on elephant hunting.
But the English-born and bi-racial Khama, the son of Botswana’s foremost independence leader Sir Seretse Khama and English woman Ruth Williams, has come in for strong criticism regarding his alleged lack of loyalty to his African heritage.
An article in Botswana’s Sunday Standard, without a byline, said Khama was more Western than African and that despite the battle for executive power between Khama and Masisi being cast in tribal terms the former was merely using tribal identity in a similar fashion to the former British colonialists.
The article accused Khama of using tribal identity as a wedge to divide and conquer black Africans.
“The 65-year old Khama has never aligned himself with any black cause, has most definitely never given a black-power salute and as president, pursued a foreign policy that put Western interests before those of the African collective,” stated the article.
The author of the article went on to accuse the former president of having a problematic record that undermined Bangwato culture.
“He is the first Bangwato kgosi (tribal leader) in the tribe’s history whose principal conversational language is not Setswana and who doesn’t speak proper (never mind idiomatic) Setswana," the writer said.
Khama was also criticised for failing to represent Botswana’s interests at UN and African Union summits.
African News Agency (ANA)