Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane is not the man who will succeed President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the end of his presidency, with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman planning to retire from active politics just before the 2024 general elections.
Like his successor, Lt Gen Ian Khama — Masisi will have more than two deputies during his term. Khama had Mompati Merafhe and later Ponatshego Kedikilwe before settling for Masisi as his ordained successor. According to sources close to the developments, Masisi’s likely successor will be the one appointed after the 2024 general elections. If the status quo obtains, Masisi will serve as president until 2028.
Since 1980, a sitting president had to alternate their deputies owing to various circumstances. Sir Ketumile Masire had three vice presidents; Lenyeletse Seretse (1980-1983), Peter Mmusi (1983-1992) and Festus Mogae (1992-1998). Mogae is the only president since Sir Seretse Khama to have had one Vice President during his tenure.
While many were surprised by the decision to appoint Tsogwane as Vice President, impeccable sources revealed that Masisi had 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 last year’s Tonota Congress and emerged victorious.
Following his appointment as party chairman a few hours after Masisi took oath as president of Botswana; 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,” revealed one member of BDP Central Committee.
WeekendPost further established that 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. Previously, Bogolo Kenewendo, who has since been appointed to cabinet, was earmarked to replace Tsogwane at Boteti West at the next polls.
WeekendPost has been informed the new Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry will be re-elected as Specially Elected MP next year. The surging of Kenewendo in government structures is credited to Tsogwane, and many have pointed out that it is one of the pointers on the tightness of Tsogwane and Masisi’s relationship.
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 the ideal man for the job at the moment. Not many friends, and also without enemies,” said one influential member of the BDP.
Even the hard to please party veteran Daniel Kwelagobe has given a thumbs up to Masisi’s choice for Vice President in Tsogwane.â€¨â€¨“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 of Tsogwane.
PLAYING IT SAFE IN CABINET APPOINTMENTS
Masisi did not cause uproar in his newly constituted cabinet, the only surprising choice being his decision to drop Edwin Batshu. Batshu, was considered one of the hard working ministers. He also enjoyed goodwill among the democrats. Batshu joined Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele — the controversy ensnared MPs who were relegated to the backbench. The public were yearning the dismissal of the duo from cabinet, something which gave Masisi an excuse to leave them out.
Kebonang has been implicated in the latest National Petroleum Fund scandal in which at least P250 million is suspected to have been misappropriated from the fund by the country’s intelligence organ. Meanwhile Maele has twice been placed under the radar of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) with regards to large sums of money found in his possession.
Masisi kept Nonofo Molefhi in cabinet, and intriguingly appointed him to a more important ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. Following their battle for chairmanship in Tonota last, a race which was considered a proxy battle for the presidential succession, it was believed that Masisi would drop Molefhi from cabinet.
Other members who were linked to Molefhi’s lobby group, Dorcas Makgato, Philip Makgalemele and Biggie Butale also retained their ministerial posts. Masisi, in another unexpected turn of events also left out Moyo Guma from his new cabinet. While some believe that Guma opted not to be offered the ministerial post, inside sources reveal otherwise.
“They were asked to indicate if they didn’t want to be considered. No one indicated such. After appointees were sworn in, the boss [Masisi] shared with them that everyone to whom he offered had accepted,” revealed a source. “No decliners. It means those not in the line-up were never offered.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.