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Home » News » Debates » Of The Khama Brothers and Racism

Of The Khama Brothers and Racism

Publishing Date : 31 October, 2016

Author :

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
Deputy Leader, BCP

In this article, we discuss the elephant in the room which is racism perpetrated by Seretse Khama Ian Khama who is the current President of the Republic of Botswana and his brother Tshekedi Khama the Minister of Environment Natural Resources and Tourism. In our view there is a systematic positioning of whites in sectors of strategic importance.

If the officially sanctioned racial discrimination is not addressed it could result in undesirable racial tensions in Botswana. Our conclusion is that President Khama deserves being nominated for the Racist of the Year 2016 Award.  Congratulations President Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.


Following the Sebinagate scandal involving the defilement of a school girl most Batswana vowed never to forget.  The narrative Batswana ba lebala ka bonako will become a thing of the past. In this regard we refuse to forget that President Khama displayed racist tendencies when he described the Basarwa as primitive people who deserved to be civilized through incorporation and assimilation in the dominant Tswana culture. Subsequent to this categorization of the indigenous people of Botswana Khama sued for being described as possessing features of a Mosarwa.

The actions of both the respondent and the claimant were motivated by racism. To them Basarwa are sub-human and to be likened to a Mosarwa is considered derogatory.
The Basarwa resistance movement led by John Hardbattle (MHSRIP), Jamanda Gakelebone and Roy Sesana (before he betrayed the struggle) are following on the route previously traversed by Kgosi Khama III, Kgosi Sebele I, and Kgosi Bathoen I. They tirelessly fought for the rights of their people for self-determination. The three Dikgosi of Tswana descent led the resistance against incorporation of Southern Bechauanaland into the Union of South Africa.


Unfortunately racism in Botswana has taken a new dimension. It is worth stating that the first generation of white people who resided and worked in Botswana were motivated by their desire to serve this country to the best of their abilities. These dedicated individuals included among others Patrick van Rensburg , Quill Hermans, Derek Hudson and Philip Steenkamp. 

However, all this has changed since the new regime came into power in 2008. What we are witnessing is a president who favours less qualified white people over qualified black citizens of Botswana. Clearly President Khama appears to have no confidence on indigenous Batswana irrespective of their qualifications and tested experiences.  Since Khama resumed office we have seen a systematic recruitment of white people with little or no qualifications into critical public service positions. This second generation of white people are motivated by greed and compulsive accumulation of wealth.  Their ultimate mission is to take over public assets for a thebe.


It all started with a certain unknown white man called Nico Cypionka who was parachuted to become the pioneering head of the Business and Economic Advisory Council (BEAC).  No sooner had he landed in this strategic position than he authored the privatization of Air Botswana.  He wanted the national airline to be liquidated and use the sales to purchase shares in the South African Airlink.  Botswana Congress Party (BCP) moved swiftly to stop Cypionka on his tracks through an urgent court action. Had the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) not acted timeously Air Botswana would have gone the BCL way. 

At the time there were arguments about whether BCP had a legal standing to sue.  It is an issue that keeps cropping up whenever discussion about whether to stop the provisional liquidation of BCL ensues.
Another white person by the name of Paul Smith has suddenly become the pioneering Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the newly established Mining Development Company Botswana (MDCB). Like Cypionka who authored the liquidation of Air Botswana Smith is the chief architect of the provisional liquidation of BCL. 

As if that was not enough another white man by the name of Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG became the Provisional Liquidator of BCL Mines. It is unthinkable that fifty years after Botswana attained independence the country does not have qualified indigenous people to carry out these critical tasks.  Surely if everyone was treated fairly and equally Cypionka, Dixon-Warren and Smith would not have been appointed.


The situation is not different with respect to assignments to Botswana missions abroad. There is a disproportionately high number of white diplomats manning Botswana Embassies overseas. Historically London and Washington D.C. are the most strategic yet in both centres Botswana is represented by white Ambassadors – Roy Blackbeard and David Newman both of whom have close ties to the Khama family. Another white person who is the President of the Court of Appeal is a long-time family friend of the Khamas.


Appointments along racial lines that are promoted and spearheaded by the Khama brothers have recently come to the foe at the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises chaired by the no nonsense Guma Samson Moyo.  The committee deliberations revealed that Minister Tshekedi Khama has become law unto himself as he frequently issues illegal directives in respect of the operations of Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO).


In the process the Minister introduced an organizational structure at BTO that allowed an Executive Manager to receive a monthly payment of P49, 000.00 as opposed to P42, 000.00 paid to the CEO who is senior because he is black.  Jillian Blackbeard who is the Executive Manager featured prominently in a controversial case in which a P17 million illegal deal was signed to open a Tourism Office in Dubai. Needless to say Jillian Blackbeard is the daughter of Roy Blackbeard, the longest serving Ambassador to Britain with close family ties to the Khamas.


It was under the instruction of the Minister that Changu Newman, the wife of David Newman was appointed Tourism Attaché in Washington D.C. The only qualification worth noting is her Diploma in Event Management.  Surely there are Batswana here and abroad who could have qualified if given the opportunity to apply for the job. Recently I penned an article in which I argued that our tourism policy has been captured by a photographic lobby group led by a powerful white couple-Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the principal proponents of the racist policy of shot to kill. Just wait until white poachers are shot and killed and the policy will face a barrage of criticism internationally.

The case of Sally-Anne Smith an illegal immigrant who stayed in the country for two years under the employ of BTO is just mind-boggling.  The less we talk about the controversial Neil Fitt the better. In our view a judicial Commission of Enquiry must be instituted to unearth racially motivated nepotism, abuse of public office, corruption, and breach of oath by the Khama brothers. .

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