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Can Geingob help fix Botswana’s leadership crisis?

By: Kelvin Chiringa

As the raging battle between Botswana’s sitting and former presidents continue unabated, reports are that President Hage Geingob has entered the fray as the Southern African Development Community chairperson.

Botswana’s Ian Khama has disclosed that he sat down with Geingob so he can get his side of the story on the leadership fight that has tipped him against Mogkweetsi Masisis, the sitting president.

Presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari confirmed that the Namibian leader has met Khama, but he said whatever was discussed cannot be disclosed to the media at the present moment.

However, the Botswana former statesmen who was in South Africa, en-route to India to meet the Dalai Lama, said Geingob has expressed concern, as SADC leader, about the deteriorating relations between him and Masisi.

Khama gave the baton stick to Masisi in a smooth power transition.

Within a few months both began fighting over leadership issues as well as the direction to which the southern African diamond producing country should go.

Geingob’s interest in the Botswana crisis comes in the wake of him facing intense criticism for the manner in which he handled the Zimbabwean civil unrests.

The unrests threw the economically overwhelmed country into a state of anarchy, in protests against worsening standards of living under Emerson Mnangagwa, leading to a few deaths and reports of gross human rights violations.

This has led critics to question what Geingob can do for Botswana.

“He asked to see me so I can give my side of the story. He expressed concern as a neighbour, as the chairman of the SADC and as the president in the region. He expressed concern [about Botswana] precisely because of what we have been saying that this is not what we expect of Botswana.

“I feel guilty because I am caught right in the middle of this ongoing problem, after having tried to move Botswana up the ladder in all areas. Now to have this thing, this burden…” Khama told journalists.

Khama has disputed Masisi’s warming up on the Chinese and opted to side with the exiled Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama instead, himself a sworn enemy of the Chinese.

With elections scheduled for end of this year, just as Namibia’s, he has openly supported the candidature of ex-foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to contest Masisi.

The contestation in Botswana will be another test to Geingob’s diplomatic and leadership prowess as he sits on the Sadc throne of power.


Kelvin Chiringa

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