Seretse Ian Khama


Seretse Khama Ian Khama (born 27 February 1953) is a politician and former military officer who was the fourth from 1 April 2008 to 1 April 2018. After serving as Commander of the , he entered politics and was from 1998 to 2008, then succeeded as President on 1 April 2008. He won a full term in the and was re-elected in October 2014.

Early life

Ian Khama is the second child of (1 July 1921 – 13 July 1980), Botswana's foremost independence leader and its from 1966 to 1980, and . He was born in , , while his father was living in exile in the , due to the opposition by the colonial government and the emergent regime in to his . He is also the grandson of (1869–1925), who was the paramount chief of the people, and the great-grandson of (1837–1923), their king. His great-great grandfather of Kgosikgolo Sekgoma I was Chief of the Bamangwato people (1815–1885). The name "Seretse" means “the clay that binds together”, and was given to his father to celebrate the recent reconciliation of his father and grandfather; this reconciliation assured Seretse Khama's ascension to the throne when his aged father died in 1925. Ian Seretse Khama is named after his father to continue this historical legacy. He is also known simply as Ian Khama to differentiate between himself and his father. , Ian Khama's brother, was named after their great uncle, who was the regent and guardian for , the first President of .

Education and Military Career

Ian Khama was educated at , a in , and at the . He is a qualified pilot. In April 1977, Khama was appointed as a brigadier general at age 24 during Presidency, making him the Deputy Commander to late former Vice President . He later served as the Commander of the (BDF) from his appointment in 1989, retiring from the position in 1998. During this time, Khama received military honours, including the Founder Officer Medal for being part of the Botswana Defence Force when it was created in 1977, the Duty Code Order for devotion to duty, and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1997 after 20 years of service.

Political career

Khama, serving as Commander of the , announced on 16 December 1997 that he would retire from his command on 31 March 1998. Because this was the same date as the planned retirement of President , it fueled political speculation about Khama. On 1 April 1998, when Vice-President succeeded Masire as President, Khama was appointed as the new Vice-President. However, Khama did not hold a seat in the , and so could not immediately take office as Vice-President. In early July 1998 he overwhelmingly won a in Serowe North, receiving 2,986 votes against 86 votes for the candidate of the opposition . On 13 July, he took his seat in the National Assembly and was sworn in as Vice-President. By these actions, he effectively renounced his hitherto unclaimed , as the constitutional monarchs of modern are legally barred from actively taking part in party politics. Be this as it may, many traditional Bamangwato continued to recognize him as their chief. Following the victory of the (BDP) in the , Khama remained Vice-President as well as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. Mogae granted Khama a one-year leave later in the year,"Botswana: President Mogae faces court action", PANA news agency (, 23 December 1999."Botswana: Vice-president's year-long sabbatical leave criticized", PANA news agency (, 3 January 2000. a decision that the opposition and the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations sharply criticized. Khama's leave became effective on 1 January 2000. He returned to his duties as Vice-President on 1 September 2000, although he was replaced as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration at that time. Khama, already a member of the BDP Central Committee,"BOTSWANA: Featureleadership contest may test stability"
IRIN, 19 June 2003.
was elected as Chairman of the BDP on 22 July 2003 at a party congress; he defeated the previous Chairman, , receiving 512 votes against 219 for Kedikilwe."BOTSWANA: Khama win eases Mogae's concerns"
IRIN, 23 July 2003.
Khama had been backed for the post by President Mogae, and the outcome was viewed as crucial, paving the way for Khama to eventually succeed Mogae as President. In 2007, Khama appeared on British television in the 's ' motoring programme and he met the presenters as they prepared to cross the in northern Botswana by car.


Interim term, 2008-09

Mogae stepped down, as he had long said he would do,"Botswana's Mogae set to retire"
AFP (''IOL''), 15 July 2007.
on 1 April 2008; Khama succeeded him as President. At his swearing-in ceremony in , Khama said that there would be continuity in policy and no "radical changes", although he said that "a change in style and special emphasis on a number of issues" might be evident, and he emphasized his commitment to democracy. He immediately undertook a major cabinet reshuffle, and he appointed , who had been Foreign Minister, as the new Vice-President. Upon becoming President, Khama left his post as Chairman of the BDP; was chosen to replace him. Khama was not elected to the presidency for his first year in office, being appointed due to his position as Vice President. Some political commentators such as see as a flaw in the electoral system in Botswana. President Khama first articulated his desire to impose a 70% alcohol levy, meant to combat the problem of excessive drinking in Botswana. The practical effect of such a levy was soon seen to have a deleterious effect on the brewing industry, who resisted the imposition of such a levy, along with bars and other drinking establishments. The President later imposed a 30% levy after consulting with industry leaders, including the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower. secured British diplomatic representation to attempt to lower the levy. In 2008, The Media Practitioners Act passed into Botswana law. the law has been criticized as inhibiting free speech by several outlets. The bill's language seeks to encourage a more professional journalistic standard. The law has proven to be difficult to enforce or implement. In 2009, Khama appeared on 's African Voices which painted a positive picture of Khama, and named Botswana an African "success story".

2009 General Election

In the , Khama was elected to the first of two terms as president. Politically, Khama's election campaign was dominated by internal squabbling in the (BDP), which was clearly divided into two major factions, the A-Team and the Barata Phati factions. The A-Team was led by President Khama, Jacob Nkate, the former Minister of Education, and the late former Vice President . The Barata Phati faction was led by former BDP secretary general , formerly the Chairman of the Party, the late , and also retired former Vice President , who wished to bring about constitutional reform not only to the BDP but also to the country's constitution. In the run-up to the 2009 elections, Motswaledi, who gave up on his ambition to run for a seat in Serowe in order to make way for Ian Khama's brother, , was also excluded from representing Gaborone when he ran afoul of President Khama. Motswaledi lost a law suit against Khama when the High Court ruled that the president enjoyed constitutional immunity from litigation by virtue of his position. After this incident, critics accused Khama of authoritarian tendencies; More than half of the BDP central Committee at one time felt that Khama had on many instances acted beyond his powers. Others, including Khama and his legal representation, said that he was simply instilling discipline as part of his role as the head of the party. Khama won 53.26% of the vote, and a majority of seats in the .

First Term, 2009-14

After the 2009 election, Motswaledi bowed out of the BDP to form another political party, the (BMD). Khama put in place a ban on hunting in 2014. The death of John Kalifatis, whose death resulted during the course of a robbery investigation, occurred early in Khama's presidency. The police statement on Kalifatis reads: "The deceased, John Kalafatis, had a warrant of arrest issued against him on 12 January 2009 for armed robbery among others. All along, he was a fugitive from justice." The officers involved claimed that they mistakenly believed him to be reaching for his firearm at the time of the shooting. Other sources dispute this, and claim that Kalafatis had been executed by members of the . The three members of the BDF responsible for the death of Kalifatis were found guilty of murder, and each sentenced to 11 years in prison. They received a presidential pardon from Khama in 2012. This was seen as proof by some sources that Khama was involved in the killing. The prosecuting lawyer for Kalifatis said “What is his special interest in these particular offenders, how can we not suspect that he had a personal interest in the case…?”

2014 General Election

In the , Khama won his second term. His party received 46.45% of the vote, and a majority of seats in the . In the lead up to the election, opposition politician died in a traffic collision on 30 July 2014. While there was some speculation on the incident being politically motivated, the police force concluded that the death was an accident.

Second Term, 2014-18

In 2015, Khama was awarded an honorary doctorate in from in . After he received the degree, Khama's official title was "His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama".

Political opinions

Khama took a strong stance against the Zimbabwean government, particularly . He did so by refusing to recognize the government unless and until it included members of the (MDC) headed by . Khama also condemned the action of Sudan's President in the region of and became a vocal critic of despotic governments in Africa along with President of Tanzania and President of . Khama has been criticized by some figures for making poor decisions, including by former president , who claimed that the BDP had been taken over by opportunists looking to benefit from senior government positions. Under Khama, the government has also established the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) with police powers, which is seen as the Botswana equivalent of the in the United States. Although this type of organization is not new and is found in many countries, it has critics in Botswana who charge that there are very few domestic or transnational threats that the police and the military could not handle. Some, including Executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Siphosami Malunga, have argued that the institution, initially headed by President Khama's close friend Issac Kgosi, could easily be manipulated and used against political enemies or others who criticize the President or his administration. On the economic front, Khama has been a vocal proponent of moving Botswana away from its over-reliance on diamonds and diversifying its economy, especially to the agriculture and tourism sector. Khama put in place a ban on hunting during his time as President, and supported conservation efforts in Botswana. In 2018, he criticized for encouraging elephant poaching. Khama has been strongly prohibitionist in his attitude towards alcohol, viewing it as a significant problem.


On 1 April 2018, was sworn in as the 5th , succeeding Ian Khama and his full ten years of presidency. After several disagreements with Masisi, in particular criticizing Masisi for authoritarian tendencies, Khama decided to leave the BDP and join the (BPF), a newly formed breakaway from the BDP. He campaigned for the BPF, which won three seats in the in the area. In 2018, after resigning from the presidency, Khama became a member of the Board of Directors of the US-based organization , which is also active in .

Honours and awards



External links

* , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Khama, Ian English people of Botswana descent