Botswana former President Ian Khama has accused his chosen successor of becoming an autocrat and threatening the country’s reputation as a beacon of stability in Africa.
Khama, 66, last week left the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a culmination of a dramatic fall-out with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took office in 2018.
He told AFP that he took the “very painful” decision to leave the BDP because of the “immature and arrogant” attitude of Mr Masisi’s government.
“The person who I nominated to be my successor, as soon as he took office became very autocratic, very intolerant and it has led to a decline in the democratic credentials that we have a reputation for,” he said in a telephone interview.
Since coming to office, Mr Masisi changed several key policies adopted by Mr Khama — the most high-profile being the lifting of the wildlife sports hunting ban imposed in 2014.
“To me it’s so sad and extremely painful that all these years’ work to build up to what we had achieved is being put in reverse,” said Mr Khama, adding Mr Masisi never previously objected to the ban.
“We have had stability for many years, we have had wildlife for many years, we have been trying to play our part as a responsible member of the international community in fostering democracy.
“When you see what is happening, putting all the hard work into reverse, it is unacceptable.”
Botswana last week attracted world headlines over Masisi’s decision to end the hunting ban.
The government said elephant hunting would help control the booming population which it said was causing serious damage to farmers’ livelihoods.
Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population with more than 135,000 roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces.