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Mixed reactions to Masisi appointment

Publishing Date : 21 February, 2018

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA


The appointment of Mokgweetsi Masisi as Vice President of Botswana and his endorsement by Parliament on Wednesday has received mixed reactions from across the political divide, business and civil society.


Usually the endorsement of a Vice President in Botswana should seal the debate on who will succeed a sitting President. Some still doubt if Masisi will succeeded President Ian Khama when he leaves office at the beginning 2018. But the President has reiterated that Masisi is the one.


Khama kept his choice of Vice President, a closely guarded secret, and majority of newly elected MPs were kept in the dark on who they will endorse as Vice President until the eleventh hour.


Even on the eve of the VP endorsement the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) caucus only deliberated on the selection of Speaker of the National Assembly, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip.


To those who understand the leadership trends in the BDP, by choosing Masisi as VP has many dynamics to it. For the better part of the 10th parliament Masisi worked closely with President Khama at the Office of the President. In 2009, following the general elections Khama appointed Masisi Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration but the resignation of Lesego Motsumi in 2011 to take up an ambassadorial post in India saw Masisi being elevated to the post of full minister in the Office of the President.


Masisi is viewed as the most loyal to Khama in the Cabinet and was tasked by the President Khama to head his poverty eradication projects, a task the Moshopa-Manyana legislator did to the satisfaction of the President.  When the Ministry of Education and Skills Development was marred by troubles, Khama temporary sent Masisi as a stopgap while Venson-Moitoi was relieved of her duties- given the fact that she never went back to the Ministry again after being appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation last week.


Masisi was so confident of his prospects for Vice Presidency that in 2012 when Mompati Merafhe announced that he will be leaving at the end of July, Masisi told reporters that he was confident that he will be appointed as Merafhe’s replacement. However, Khama settled for the more experienced Ponatshego Kedikilwe as the replacement instead. Kedikilwe retired from politics following the dissolution of the 10th parliament.


Masisi has generally been accepted in the BDP as Vice President. His appointment has satisfied most party members in the south who felt that there was need to appoint one of their own to balance power in the ruling party.


WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT MASISI APPOINTMENT
BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari: “In my honest opinion I do not think Mr Masisi makes a cut to be a Vice President of this country. My reasons are that he has been the Minister of Presidential Affairs and quite antagonistic to the public service. It was during his stewardship that we have seen gross deterioration of employer-employee relations. I am not happy that he was appointed in that respect.


I understand that he would still be the Minister of Education and Skills Development at the same time and that does not make me happy either. That will be very unfortunate because the V.P has huge responsibility as the coordinator of all government projects, if that has not changed. That is another mammoth task. There is nobody in this country who does not know the huge responsibility that comes with leading the Ministry of Education hence the Ministry has two assistant ministers. He will find it difficult to juggle between the two jobs. President Khama has to relieve him fast. Moonlighting at the Ministry of Education would lead to a crisis, because that is what he would do, moonlight. As it is morale of the teachers are already low.”


Former Molepolole South legislator Daniel Kwelagobe: “The President chooses a character he feels comfortable working with, so I cannot judge his choice of Vice President. Whether Masisi is a good leader or not, it is not for me to determine. I believe the President made the best choice and he is and would be more comfortable working with Masisi.”


Former BDP Youth Wing leader Bontsi Monare: “The newly elected Vice President of the Republic of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi is a young and pragmatic leader. He was the best choice in our current time because he brings the best of both worlds – speaking generationally. His thinking is very well set apart and that he is not a typical thinker and that’s important looking at our preparation towards the next development planning. We need a fresh approach to economic development in general and employment creation in particular, so really if you are out of the box thinker with a strong leadership and administrative acumen Masisi is a perfect choice.”


MASISI’S JOURNEY
Botswana’s 8th Vice President Masisi is MP for Moshupa/Manyana constituency and Minister of Education and Skills Development, Mokgweetsi Masisi.


He initially trained as a teacher majoring in English and History. In 1984 he taught at Mmanaana Secondary School in Moshupa, while also leading community development initiatives there.


In 1987, Masisi transferred to Curriculum Development and Evaluation and worked as Social Studies Curriculum Specialist, where he supervised a group of subjects (Social Studies, Music, Religious and Moral Education)
In 1989 he studied at graduate level at Florida State University, USA, specialising in Social Studies Education and Instructional Systems Design.


In 1990 re-joined Curriculum Development and oversaw Social Studies and other subjects and played major role in development of new assessment system of Criterion Referenced Testing (CRT). There he became the National Coordinator for Social Studies Education and Botswana’s representative as the African Social and Environmental Studies Programme (ASESP) and Board member for Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) for more than 5 years. He was also a member of several NGO Boards.


Vice President Masisi joined UNICEF in 1995 as Education Project Officer. In 2003 from resigned to join politics, standing unsuccessfully for BDP primaries in Moshupa Constituency.  Joined International Research NGO and focussed on HIV Prevention research
and began studying for PhD in epidemiology.


In 2008 Vice President Masisi won the BDP Primary Elections and thus became the party’s Parliamentary candidate for Moshupa, which he subsequently secured in the October 2009 general election. Also in October 2009, Masisi was appointed as the Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. He was subsequently promoted to be the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public administration in January 2011.


In April 2014 Vice President Masisi was transferred to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on an acting basis until the general elections on the 24th October 2014, when he was re-elected Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana.
 

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