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Masisi tells BDP why Tsogwane is VP

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has once again reiterated to high ranking Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members the rationale behind opting for Member of Parliament for Boteti West, Slumber Tsogwane as his understudy despite a plethora of alternatives he had.

In the run-up to his inauguration, Masisi was cagey on revealing his choice for Vice President, with a number of BDP legislators having expressed their ambitions to occupy the position but ultimately he settled for, Tsogwane. Not only did Tsogwane get the Vice Presidency, he was also handed the party Chairmanship, the second most senior position in the party. Masisi first revealed justification for choosing the party's longest serving Member of Parliament, Tsogwane as his right hand man few weeks ago at South East Regional Congress.

Masisi said following his ascendancy to the presidency on the 1st April 2018, he told party MPs that his objective was to have a stable and united party ahead of general elections, therefore he needed someone who would define stability—a description which qualified Tsogwane for the position. “I talked to Slumber Tsogwane at 11:50 am. The party caucus was scheduled for 12:00 noon in the cabinet room. I called him and said: "Please do pass by, I want to discuss something with you," he said.

“At 11:57 I left home for office. Tsogwane was ahead of me, as the protocol dictates. I sat down with MPs and told them that politically speaking — we are 18 months to elections — we are coming from 46 percentage [popular vote in 2014], which to me is a defeat. Everything I do is to win resoundingly in 2019. So the name I pick was out of consideration for this,” explained Masisi.

"We had a tendency of not being stable. Look at Slumber [Tsogwane]. He is the definition of stability. Look at his track record from the first time he came into parliament…. he has defined stability,” Masisi said of Tsogwane. "He once became an Assistant Minister and back to backbench but he never caused any trouble. Power has not made him wayward. In parliament, if there is a very powerful defender of the BDP I don't know anyone better than Slumber Tsogwane.

"I then asked them to endorse him to be my Vice President, because I want the party to win 2019. "Tsogwane never asked for the Vice Presidency. I am the one who enticed him and he agreed, and he was endorsed by the MPs. “Only later I heard there is someone saying I promised them the Vice Presidency. There is no truth in that and do not let that to distract you." Masisi also reportedly told BDP high ranking members that Tsogwane is good choice because he is from a minority tribe, something he views as a gesture of inclusion.

“He is a very inclusive leader. He says he wanted someone who can ensure that all the tribes are included in the positions of leadership,” says a source close to the President. It is also said that Masisi wanted to consolidate the dominance of the ruling party in Boteti where Tsogwane is the legislator. “He feels for a long time the two areas have been excluded in leadership positions despite their loyalty to the party,” added a source.

Tsogwane, unlike many in the BDP, did not have any ambition for the presidency, let alone the vice presidency — with his initial plan having been to retire at the end of his current term.  It was Masisi who coaxed the pint-sized legislator, who is currently the joint longest serving lawmaker in parliament — to stay for another five years.

Masisi’s choice for Tsogwane though unexpected by many democrats, has not caused any uproar chiefly because he is considered a man without controversies. “He is considered to be the ideal man for the job at the moment. Not many friends, and also without enemies,” said one influential member of the BDP. It is said many within the party were surprised by the decision to appoint Tsogwane as Vice President, impeccable sources revealed that Masisi says he long concluded that he will appoint Tsogwane his deputy.

Tsogwane, who had throughout his political career been reluctant to take up a post in the party’s central committee, surprised many when he ran for the additional member post at 2017 Tonota Congress and emerged victorious. Following his appointment as party chairman a few hours after Masisi took oath as president of Botswana last year; it grew apparent that Tsogwane was Masisi’s chosen one.

“Masisi was obviously looking for someone who is loyal, and who wouldn’t want to outshine him. Given their chemistry, Slumber [Tsogwane], was that person. Though many say he is slumbering they don’t know how strategic he is. Masisi has really loved the speech he presented at the party’s retreat in Palapye last month. Not only that, he is satisfied with his work thus far,” revealed one member of BDP Central Committee.

Even the hard to please party veterans like Daniel Kwelagobe have given a thumbs up to Masisi’s choice for Vice President in Tsogwane. “He has been in government for a very long time, he knows how government works and he has been a good member of the party,” said Kwelagobe on Tsogwane.

While many considered Tsogwane as a stop gap Vice President, Masisi has revealed to the party that he will retain him after the October elections. Many within the party thought just like the past presidents having more then two VP in their terms, Masisi is likely to have at most two with a successor VP expected after 2024 elections.Tsogwane will this year contest this year’s elections in Boteti West and his continued stay in Parliament is linked to “his intelligence, humility, hard work and the level of respect he afforded all his constituents.”

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