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Bolope (bootlicking) has paid for Masisi!

Publishing Date : 17 November, 2014

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

When the now Vice President, His Honor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, confessed to being a lelope, i.e. a bootlicker, he was publicly ridiculed in social media. Few believed that a self-respecting person can inscribe in history that “ke lelope, ke ngwana wa lelope, ke ngwana wa ngwana wa lelope” literally meaning that “I am a bootlicker, I am the child of a bootlicker, I am the grandchild of a bootlicker.” For many, Masisi had departed from his own persona to the extent that he could ascribe to himself such a lowly attribute as to be diminutive to his whole being.

Not long after that a recording of Masisi boasting that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had misled Gabz FM and the American Embassy into believing that it would participate in the Gabz FM Parliamentary debates when it knew all along that it would not participate went viral. Again, many believed that Masisi had become a liability to the BDP.

This was worsened by Masisi’s perceived and/or actual anti-trade union position which earned him the wrath of the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU). Consequently, BOFEPUSU campaigned against his betrothal during his party’s primary elections and when he, against all odds, emerged triumphant, BOFEPUSU included him, still to no avail, in its so-called ‘hit list’ for non-election during the general elections, citing him as one of the enemies of democracy.  

When Masisi, who had hitherto been excelling, at least in the books of the BDP and President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, was demoted from being Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration(MOPAPA) to Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development(ME&SD) many thought that President Khama had finally had enough of Masisi’s ‘blunders’.

They remembered how Lesego Motsumi was, against public expectation, in 2011, moved from MOPAPA and assigned an ambassadorial post after being forced to resign from both Parliament and cabinet. They thought it was over for Masisi. When, after the just ended general elections, Masisi was appointed substantive Minister of Education and Skills Development many thought he was no longer in President Khama’s ‘book of life’.

Yet, the many who had written off Masisi were palpably wrong. With the benefit of retrospect many would now realize that when Masisi sacrificed his being for President Khama, and some would say for the party, he struck the right cord. He proved to the person whose boots matter that he can lick them, clean or filthy.

As history will show, it is this self-denigration, which some would call humility or loyalty, that would, among other things, earn him the position of Vice President. I say ‘among other things’ because though the poverty eradication campaigns he tirelessly canvassed for while Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration were premised on an ill-advised policy, he relentlessly promoted them. Through the campaign and his outstanding eloquence in both Setswana and English he, no doubt, endeared the Presidency to the people, especially the common voter.

If the extent to which Masisi professed to abide by bolope is anything to go by, claims that he is a fill-gap Vice President used by President Khama to avoid the obvious ‘taboo’ of himself appointing his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama, as his vice would not matter for Masisi.

The same applies to claims that he was only appointed Vice President because President Khama’s cousin, Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse, failed to return to Parliament after losing the party’s primary elections to his long-time rival, Kgotla Autlwetse.

Malope by definition do not care how they attain their objectives. They also don’t worry about tomorrow for as long as they believe they have the trust of their masters. Malope are like malatswathipa. They do not care how sharp a knife is. They do not care about the risks of having their ‘tongue cut’ by the knife for they know their master will ensure their medical attention.

Consequently, Masisi would not be bothered by claims that he was only appointed because President Khama could not, in terms of section 39(1) of the Constitution, appoint his confidant, Kitso Mokaila, as Vice President since he is not an elected Member of the National Assembly. Nor would he be bothered by claims that he was only appointed because Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi declined the position.

One thing is clear. Bolope has paid for Masisi. That, for whatever reason, he, coming from what some regard as a peripheral tribe; only having been first elected a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2009 and never having held such positions as Secretary General or Chairperson in the party, he is today the Vice President is testimony for this.

Given his almost blind loyalty to President Khama, Masisi will not care whether or not he is a ‘regent’ for Tshekedi Khama and that when the time comes his appointment will be revoked by the President in terms of section 39(4)(i) of the Constitution. He will not care whether or not he ever becomes President.

The aforegoing notwithstanding, all is not bad about Masisi’s appointment as Vice President. That President Khama, a MoNgwato, appointed Masisi, a non-MoNgwato from a peripheral tribe, as Vice President shows that there is respect for all tribes.

It is, however, yet to be seen whether we will ever have a Kalanga, Mosarwa, Moyeyi, MomBukushu or MoHerero Vice President or President. It is also regrettably yet to be seen whether or not we will ever have a female Vice President of President.

Also, though he comes from a BDP family, with his late father, Edson Masisi, and late elder brother, Tshelang Masisi, having been MPs, he cut his own teeth in politics. Notably, he managed to emerge from the shadow of his late father and elder brother, and it would seem, avoided his elder brother’s down fall, factional politics or rather belonging to the ‘wrong’ faction.

President Khama also has to be commended for, contrary to popular belief, not appointing those from the military as his friend, Thapelo Olopeng, and Kitso Mokaila and former Police Commissioner, Edwin Batshu, who are Ministers of Youth, Sport & Culture, Minerals, Energy & Water Resources and Labour & Home Affairs respectively.   

Truth be told, though Masisi is a lelope, when he got the opportunity to prove himself to President Khama he worked relentlessly in selling President Khama’s projects, especially the Poverty Eradication Initiatives, when he was Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.

The projects may be flawed from a policy perspective, but he sold them, seemingly whole heartedly, as was his duty as a Minister. You would agree with me that since he left MOPAPA the projects have not got the same attention. His acting successor, Honorable Shaw Kgathi, was no way near Masisi’s vigor.

Over and above bolope, it was perhaps this vigor, which Masisi is said to have exhibited from his days as an English and History teacher at Mmanaana Community Junior Secondary School; curriculum developer in the Curriculum Department at ME&SD and Project Officer for Education with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), coupled with eloquence of speech, which endeared him to President Khama.

Now, over and above the bolope and vigor that got him this far, Masisi, as Vice President, has to bring humility and wisdom to Office of the President. He has to temper the President’s iniquities and indiscretions with virtue.  He no longer belongs to the trenches where dirty fighting is virtue but is the deputy father for all.