Wednesday, October 28, 2009
AN INDIAN businessman has been slung out of Botswana after being declared an “undesirable person” for allegedly insulting President Ian Khama about his sexuality.
The declaration was made under a presidential decree which cannot be challenged in a Botswana court, and which has been used to deport foreign critics of the Botswana government in the past.
Sayed Fakhar Abbas Shah’s lawyer, Duma Boko, said he would now consider taking the matter to the Southern African Development Community’s Tribunal.
Shah was arrested on October 6 and charged with “use of insulting language to the President” contrary to Section 93 (1) of Botswana’s Penal Code.
He is alleged to have stated: "I do not f**k ladies just like your President Khama who does not have a wife."
Prosecutors said the statement inferred that President Khama – who is 56 and has never married -- “is of a different sexual orientation than the conventional”.
The case was however withdrawn from court, Shah declared “an undesirable inhabitant of or visitor to Botswana” and deported on Thursday last week.
Shah’s deportation has focused attention on Khama’s authoritative style of leadership which has alienated many and caused deep rifts in the ruling party.
A former lieutenant general and commander of the Botswana defence forces, Khama’s military-style leadership; the extreme power granted him in the Constitution and lack of consultation with his ministers on key decisions has caused Botswana’s urban elite discomfort, although he remains hugely popular in the diamond producing country.
In 2005, Botswana was condemned by human rights groups when then President Festus Mogae ordered the deportation of an Australian professor, Kenneth Good, who had lived and worked in Botswana for 15 years.
No explanation was given, but Good and human right activists put the expulsion order in connection with his co-authoring of a critical report titled, “Presidential Succession in Botswana: No Model for Africa”.