Dikgosi call for end to Masisi/Khama ‘cold war’
Tribal leaders in the Maun Administration Authority (MAA) have called on government to work harder to resolve the long-standing feud between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama, before it gets any worse.
Speaking at a consultative meeting with Local Government Minister, Kgotla Autlwetse, in Maun on Tuesday morning, Kgosi Moeti Moeti of Boyei ward stressed, “The law has to be employed if anyone wants to stomp all over existing regulations.”
Other speakers shared similar sentiments, with some suggesting Khama – paramount chief of the Bangwato tribe – and currently in self-imposed exile in South Africa, must return to the kgotla and allow a fair mediation process to take place.
“We request that Khama return to the kgotla so that this matter is resolved amicably,” urged Kgosi Emmanuel Nguvauva of Sehithwa village.
Dikgosi were responding to what Autlwetse had put before them regarding the ‘cold war’ between Masisi and Khama, which broke out in the build-up to the 2019 general elections and has been growing steadily frostier ever since.
With no end to the squabble in sight and with the 2024 general elections on the horizon, Masisi has turned to tribal leaders for support and guidance.
To that end, Autlwetse has been skipping parliamentary sessions to meet with tribal leaders around the country in an attempt to come up with ideas that can help them resolve the impasse.
In what he termed a ‘tell-it-all’ consultation meeting, Autlwetse insisted they have tried their best to mediate and bring peace between the two men.
However, he says their efforts have met a dead end, putting the blame squarely on Khama’s unwillingness to relent on his ‘demands’.
According to Autlwetse, chief among Khama’s gripes is Masisi’s failure to make his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama, vice president.
He also mentioned Khama’s apparent wish to be appointed commander of the armed forces – a position the constitution states can only be held by the president – as another cause of the conflict.
Somewhat ironically, given his long history of donating food hampers to the underprivileged, Autlwetse also said Khama was upset that government would not foot his grocery bill. He further contended Khama requested to be given three cooks instead of one, and 15 armed security guards.
In 2019, Khama quit the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), founded by his late father, Sir Seretse Khama, the year before Independence, to form a new party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
“After losing general elections, we thought that like all other politicians, Khama would accept defeat and help the country run in peace. But that was never to be; the feud raged on and Khama’s actions became even more disturbing as they could incite civil war or even lead to trade embargo against our country,” warned Autlwetse.
In 2020, Masisi appointed four elders to mediate on the matter: former president, Festus Mogae; former minister, David Magang; and ex-parliament speakers, Patrick Balopi and Ray Molomo (now late).
The elders are said to have first listened to Masisi’s side of the sordid tale before then meeting with Khama, who allegedly listed his grievances.
Autlwetse added that when SKI was reminded of his entitlements as a former President as per the constitution, it made no difference.
“It was what he wanted and nothing else.”
After rejecting Masisi’s mediation team, Khama is said to have appointed his own teams. The first one included, former minister, Charles Tibone; BDP treasurer, Satar Dada; and former ambassador to UK, Legwaila Legwaila.
“He also accused them of asking questions which suggested that they were biased towards Masisi. He then brought forth two names, Peter Magosi, now Director General in the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services, and Elias Magosi, who is now SADC Executive secretary. They also started their job and he equally didn’t like their line of questioning and dismissed them.”
After that, Khama’s uncles were said to have written a letter seeking an audience with Masisi, of which they were granted.
However, when they reached the Office of the President (OP), they were met by Autlwetse instead.
“They were very angry.”
Autlwetse explained they told the uncles it would not be proper for them to meet Masisi in person when Khama was not part of the meeting.
“You cannot mediate between people when the other party is not present. Both sides have to be heard,” he reasoned.
“When the uncles returned to Serowe, a kgotla meeting was called at which people were told I wanted Khama to come to Gaborone so that he could be arrested and the people became so angry,” Autlwetse told his absorbed crowd.
The minister’s ongoing meetings began in Serowe and have since taken him to Boteti, Tutume, Tonota, Mahalapye and Palapye.
“I have also met dikgosi in other areas: Batlokwa, Balete, Bakgatla-ba-ga-Mmanaana and Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela. Today, I am here in Maun and will be in Shakawe this afternoon, tomorrow I will be in Gantsi area.”