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The big lion roars

Khama on life after Presidency

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The big lion roars
Khama

He stepped down as the fourth President of Botswana in April after a ten- year rule.

Dr. Ian Khama, 65, has however not stopped making headlines.

During his tenure he was labeled the people’s president as his walkabouts in villages instantly won him favour with the masses.

However his popularity was later dented when political commentators labeled him a tyrant and an oppressor who only surrounded himself with bootlickers.

This week Voice reporter, SHARON MATHALA visited Khama popularly known as SKI or Super in the field of soccer at his office in the heart of Gaborone for an explosive interview.

Q. What is your fondest memory of your Father, Seretse Khama?

A. There were many! I can’t single out a particular time but mostly moments at his cattle post, at home in Serowe or later on when we moved to Gaborone when he took the seat of the Presidency but mostly, it would be times when we sat down and discussed issues that affect Batswana.

Q. Reflecting back, what would you say are some of the major challenges you can pin point that you faced during your Presidency?

A. There were several, but the one that really stands out would have to be the world recession.

You see recession started the same year I took the Presidency so that frustrated the plans and some of the things I wanted to do.

But I also then used it as an opportunity to show up and ensure that the people who were not well off didn’t become worse.

Climate change also hit us and we had a drought and a water shortage crisis that we went through.

There were also electricity challenges and the occasional outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.

That was a very serious time for us so a lot of time was spent in trying to address those but of course the biggest challenge was unemployment.

Q. And your major achievements?

A. We managed to get more youth into Agriculture.

Because of the recession food prices were going up so I said where we could we should be able to produce our own food.

We increased the production of cereal.

The youth programmes we put into place I still think that was a success, managing to arrest the increase in alcohol consumption.

Promotion of the arts and culture was something we were able to do as well as promote our sports because during that time we managed to excel a lot in international competitions.

So that’s a range of things we were able to achieve.

Q. During your time we saw a lot of corruption incidents involving high profile officers, what would you say to critics who believe that in your era there was an increase in corruption?

A. I would beg to disagree with that statement.

There wasn’t a single minister who was convicted of corruption.

There were few, two or three maybe who were taken to court for corruption, its corruption when its conflict of interest but even then they were acquitted.

So I think as a country we are unique in that actually the top echelon of the leadership are not corrupt.

Yes they were allegations and perceptions but no one was convicted.

That does not mean to say we don’t have corruption, there is corruption as it is in every country but we said we will adopt a zero tolerance in corruption, so they knew they would not get any protection in that regard.

Q. Your compound in Mosu was one of your most talked about ‘controversies’, reports suggested that you used your muscle to use Government money to build it, some reports also suggested that some people were moved to create space for your compound. Your say?

A. Anybody who is asked to move would do so only if it is for Government projects.

This is a private compound and I can assure you that nobody was moved either for the compound or for the airstrip.

I applied just like anybody else through the Land Board.

The noise that came about was because my detractors wanted to discredit me during my entire time as Vice President and as President.

These were deliberate manufactured stories about me.

That compound was put up at government expense, last year the ombudsman visited there, the only portion in the compound which was paid for by Government was the BDF barracks, but when I go there they provide security so they put a structure there and the airstrip.

Q. What kind of stories are you referring to?

A. There was a story that I had an accident and I quietly tried to pay off the person I had run into and I wasn’t even on the road at that time, I happened to be in another part of the country at that time.

That’s why I once said fake news was actually invented in Botswana.

These kinds of stories don’t even have an iota of truth.

Q. There has been a reported fallout between you and President Mokgweetsi Masisi, any of those reports true especially in relation to HE reversing some of your policies and programmes?

A. Firstly I would like to state that the President is entitled to come up with his own policies just like I did, but if you reverse a policy I would expect you to do so because it is not working and that whatever you put in place would be better.

So those reversals that have been happening up to now I don’t agree with them.

As a member of the BDP I belong to the party so I should be able to support its programmes and policies.

I hope there won’t come a time that they start introducing policies and programmes that I cannot support which would then affect my support for the party.

Q. There are reports that suggest you had actually wanted Mr. Kitso Mokaila to be your VP, is this true?

A. I am going to dodge the question and say they were a few candidates including Rre Mokaila, I am not going to say anything on this question.

Q. Had he won would you have made a different decision?

A. The reason why it didn’t happen was because the VP can only become a VP if he has a constituency and you know that Rre Mokaila lost.

Q. In 2014, during your Presidency we saw a political shake up leading to the opposition gaining more seats in parliament. What could have contributed to this?

A. It was an own goal.

There were instances where people within the BDP voted for the opposition because they did not like the particular candidate.

People actually came and admitted it to me that they did that and it happened in a number of constituencies.

There were also carried over fights from Bulela Ditswe. (BDP primary elections)

Q. What do you do to keep fit?

A. I have a very nice gym at home, I do one and half-hours every morning on the gym.

I get up at 5am and do gym and in the afternoon I do about an hour of sports it may be football, cycling or it maybe an obstacle course.

Q. Is it true that you are an Ice Cream person?

A. I will not deny that I like ice cream; vanilla and it if it chocolate sauce the better.

Q. Do you listen to music?

A. No. I don’t listen to music.

But I am a big fan of movies, watching movies especially action movies so I spend more time catching up on movies.

Nowadays I spend more time behind the telly.

I watch everything I catch up on news, discovery channel and national geographic channel so I just surf through them a lot.

Q. Many people both locally and internationally have just one question in mind, I mean you recently told Bangwato that their chief is back, and they too would like to know if..

A. Ahh I know what you want to ask (laughs) why do you want to know kante?

I am very very busy man even now, I am not someone who can just sit especially when I know people are out there, I do a lot of charity work, I get a lot of requests, that’s why I have been travelling around the country, so those are things that may not get the attention they deserve.

That is something I’ll have to seriously wait on.

Q. But do you have any marriage plans maybe in the future?

A. You will have to wait just a little longer.

Q. There was a picture circulating on social media with yourself and two ladies..

A. There is nothing wrong with that picture. I mean they are twins, it was their birthday their birthday was on Friday and I missed it, so I invited them for lunch so they were thanking me, although I didn’t expect that picture.

Q. There used to be myths going around, back when you were still at the military, that you can turn yourself into a lion. Did you know of these myths and can you turn into one?

A. Those are not just stories.

But I cannot tell you how I do it because if I tell you how I do it, then Ill lose those powers and it would not work.

They told me not to tell anybody that I can but yes I can ( As he laughs turning to a picture of a Lion hanging on his wall.)

Q. TGIF..

A. I will be travelling somewhere.

I’ll have to check my diary but it will be for charity.