President Lt Gen Ian Khama had planned to appoint then Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Kitso Mokaila as his Vice President, inside sources at the ruling party have revealed.
In a startling revelation, WeekendPost has been reliably informed that on the eve of the 2014 general elections, Khama had already drafted his cabinet, waiting for 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 Umbrella for Democratic Change (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 include Kitso Mokaila (Goodhope-Mabule), Johnnie Swartz (Ghanzi North) and 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 was aborted by Seretse’s loss 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.
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. The defeat of Seretse, Khama’s first choice for vice presidency meant that Khama opted for his second choice, Mokaila, who was drafted in as Vice President.
Mokaila formed part of Khama’s trusted inner circle and when he lost the election, Khama was left with no option. Mokaila’s family have 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 general election through the Specially Elected Member of Parliament dispensation. Sources indicate that Khama even considered appointing his younger brother but only if he won the 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 Mokgweetsi Masisi as his Vice President. Masisi is expected to succeed Khama as president at the end of March next year.
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.