As the relationship between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama continues to tumble, fresh information is emerging that reveals details of their journey – a journey that ultimately saw Khama appoint Masisi his Vice President four years ago.
Those close to the developments then have shared that Masisi’s name had never crossed Khama’s mind until Isaac Kgosi, the former Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General threw Masisi’s name into the bucket. This was after Khama’s favoured person for the position of Vice President Kitso Mokaila lost the 2014 general election in Goodhope-Mabule constituency.
At the time of Kgosi stepping in with a “safe name” Khama was at sixes and sevens as to whom he will appoint. Effectively Kgosi’s advice meant that Khama snubbed clear favourite after Mokaila’s loss, Nonofo Molefhi and even his brother, Tshekedi Khama lost out because of Kgosi’s intervention. At the time Kgosi and Khama were of the view that appointing Masisi was a masterstroke decision.
According to information passed to this publication, Khama had planned to appoint then Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Kitso Mokaila as his Vice President. Impeccable sources indicate that on the eve of the 2014 general elections, Khama had already drafted his cabinet, waiting for the announcement after the elections.
However, Khama was upset by the developments which saw his Vice President in-waiting and scores of other senior ministers losing their seats to resurgent UDC. For the first time in history, opposition managed to win 20 seats, with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) accounting for three seats.
Khama reportedly, in a disappointed gesture revealed to his inner circle that his cabinet and plans had been ruined. Among those who lost in the general elections who formed part of Khama’s cabinet included Johnnie Swartz (Ghanzi North) and the late Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri (Molepolole North) among others.
Insiders revealed that Khama had already informed Mokaila that he would appoint him as his Vice President after the general elections. The plan was nullified by Mokaila’s shocking defeat at the hands of James Mathokgwane of UDC. Mathokgwane has since resigned his position as a legislator to join the corporate world.
Khama’s initial choice, according to informants was Ramadeluka Seretse, the then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security who is also his cousin. The plan did not come to fruition as well because Seretse lost in the party primary elections in 2013 at the hands of Kgotla Autlwetse. There were efforts to revive Seretse and bring him back when the party Electoral Board chaired by Parks Tafa ruled in favour of a re-run amid reports of irregularities. Seretse lost the re-run as well. The defeat of Seretse, Khama’s first choice for vice presidency meant that Khama opted for his second choice, Masisi, who was drafted in as Vice President.
Sources indicate that Khama even considered appointing his younger brother but only if he won a poll which ensued immediately after general elections. Khama was prepared to be brave enough to appoint Tshekedi because “it would have been a collective decision of the party caucus.” However, those privy to the developments indicate that the conducted poll, which Khama had wanted MPs to elect whom they wanted for Vice Presidency was won by Nonofho Molefhi followed by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
The results of the poll were nevertheless shared with MPs. Several MPs told this publication that Khama had kept the result to himself and no reason was advanced on why the results were not shared. After the general election, Khama took the longest time since independence without announcing his Vice President.
Khama announced his cabinet a few days after MPs were sworn but in had no vice president in it. Incidentally, the last time a sitting president had went for a long time without announcing his cabinet was in 1994 following the general elections in which BDP had performed dismally. The results were so dismal that President Sir Ketumile Masire took almost two weeks without cabinet.
After pondering, Khama in unexpected turn of events announced Masisi as his Vice President. Masisi’s appointment was however seen as marriage of convenience, with what is playing out in public now proving that the two were not necessarily in the same on the same page. Masisi has proved to be his own man, and has also identified threats emerging from Khama’s camp. Kgosi had hoped that Masisi will not initiate a push against him and Khama, Masisi was made aware of the former’s efforts in lobbying for him to be Vice President.
Things have turned sour now, Masisi dismissed Kgosi from the position of DISS Director General and he is even refusing to accede to Khama’s request to have Kgosi appointed his private secretary. On the other hand Masisi is reversing some of Khama’s policies and Khama is threatening to withdraw his support for the BDP should this go on and replacement polices fail to address the challenges he was dealing with when he was president.
OTHER LOSSES THAT MESSED KHAMA’S PLANS
Other loses in the party primary elections which ruined Khama’s future cabinet plans include the losses of Phandu Skelemani, Peter Siele, Dr John Seakgosing, and Lebonaamang Mokalake who all lost to new comers. None of the MPs who replaced the aforementioned, save for Dr Alfred Madigele were appointed to cabinet. Mokaila formed part of Khama’s trusted inner circle and when he lost the election, Khama was left with no option.
Mokaila’s family has close ties with the Khama family since the days of Sir Seretse Khama. Under Khama’s leadership Mokaila has headed his revered portfolio of Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, currently occupied by Tshekedi Khama. The latter took over after Mokaila was moved to replace Ponatshego Kedikilwe at Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. This followed Kedikilwe’s appointment as Vice President. Khama brought Mokaila back to parliament and cabinet after his loss in the 2014 general election through the Specially Elected Member of Parliament dispensation.
Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.
There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024. Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”. Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”
Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.
However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party. This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.
There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.
As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.
Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said. Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.
Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.
This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned. “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.
The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.” Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”
He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.” Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.
He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court. “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.
He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.” He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.
“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”
He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo. “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.
Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.” He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.
The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.
The report was released a week ago. Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says. It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge. The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.
“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.” On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.
“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry. The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says. According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.
The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week. The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods. Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health
The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.
The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.
The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.