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Whats next for Khama’s fallen Ministers

Gloria Somolekae

The 2014 general elections have come and gone. Sadly a number of legislators have gone with the just-ended elections. More disturbing is that most Ministers have not come back,  raising questions of not only their replacements but most importantly those of their next move.


An observant eye will have noticed that during the just-ended elections campaign for the ruling party, all the defeated Ministers and BDP backbenchers stood in support of the winners and remained loyal to the party, something that is very different when one looks at the history of the notorious BDP primary elections.

 

Although some were said to be bitter following the much protested party primary elections, which were shrouded in controversies, we later saw rare reconciliatory efforts which saw the BDP united going into the just-ended elections. Candidates supported each other and those who lost the primary elections soiled their hands in response to Khama’s appeal at the 52nd BDP National Congress that those who devote their time and energy to the party will earn his recognition.


At the said meeting Khama told primary elections losers not to despair and we quote him verbatim, “ standing up and demonstrating your party patriotism, and continued involvement in active party affairs will earn you recognition by me and the leadership as much as those who were succesful. This I assure you of,” he said.


 “Withdrawing from participation will be regrettable and unfortunate and would tend to demonstrate your involvement with this party is only for personal interest only. Many of you who lost have accepted the outcome despite the issues and challenges I refer to. I thank them for being true democrats,” he said.


Surely Khama did not anticipate that a huge number of his trusted men will fall again in the just-ended elections. Unluckily for him, the number has increased from those who lost during the primary to general elections. It is now common knowledge that unlike in the opposition ranks when an Minister or MP loses elections in the ruling party they start harbouring some aspirations and hoping for presidential mercy.


This attitude and rewards have for over the years been a topical issue from the opposition ranks and the academia who often argues that some positions are used to reward elections losers and close associates.


With a lot of them this time around and in consideration of Khama’s promise that they have earned his recognition, the million dollar question is who is going where, when and how. A couple of Ministers have fallen and they include among others, Gloria Somolokae, Patrick Masimolole, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, Olebile Gaborone Ramadeluka Seretse, Lebonaamang Mokalake, Eric Molebatsi, Phandu Skelemani, Rev John Seakgosing, Peter Siele, Keletso Rakhudu and Jonhny Swarts. We all can recall seeing these men and woman campaigning for the BDP. Many of us can attest to the fact that we saw them the primary elections losers activism during rallies and launches. The big question is would they ordinarily engage on such a tourturous, industrious and time consuming exercise freely?


It is not far-fetched to conclude that each of these Ministers expect something from Khama.We have seen in some instances elections losers emerging winners outside politics due to this arrangement.But how do they do it? New regimes exploit an array of plum public jobs like postings in foreign missions and State Corporations to reward political allies and cronies.


 While many losing candidates land on their feet, some end up in better-paying jobs than the ones they sought at the ballot box. In fact, the list of defeated candidates who parlayed government experience or political connections into gainful employment elsewhere is long and common in Botswana as is the case in the region and internationally.


While some of the defeated candidates on today’s ballot will fade into history, never to be heard from politically again it is something different for those who went into races with good connections or whose political party controls patronage positions.


This is ussually the case with ruling party members. For opposition, most are often attractive to public or private employers or lobbying firms because of the skills they acquired in government or because they as well developed valuable relationships with powerful players.


This publication has learnt that the Khama is in a tight corner this time around with many expecting favours from him. The deafeat of almost the entire cabinet will give the president a headache,insiders say. Information reaching this publication is that already many have been disappointed at the specially elected MPs as they were hoping to be considered.Sources say there was a lot of acrimony at the choices. After all is said and done at parliament a lot of eyes will now be fixed to the president.
We now zoom into Khama’s Ministers who have lost elections.


GLORIA SOMOLEKAE
An academic of note who lost with a heart-wrenching margin of three votes to Kefentse Mzwinila. Having been brought into parliament through the specially elected ticket, her bid to save her prestigious job was all in vain. Her transfer from Khama’s office to the Ministry of Health raised eyebrows but not many could offer a concrete and credible analysis of the move. While many suspected she might not have blended well with Khama’s tastes, others argued that her some virtues she were noticed that warranted her move to the Ministry of Health. Somolekae will be unemployed soon and like many, she has been traversing the land campaigning for the BDP as well as promoting and defending the not so easy to defend party. She has been delegated by the party as a representative in various occasions and was caught in some instances stretching herself beyond her innermost convictions and principles. Where will she go?


OLEBILE GABORONE
This is the man whose affinities with the Khamas cost the BDP the Tlokweng constituency. The inconcievable blunder by the BDP to recall the party’s representative Elijah Katse has shown how far Khama can go to favour Katse. It is alleged that the two have ventured into businesses together and come a long way. Of late, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has been silent with some labelling him a spent force. Insiders say he will definately get something big but what could that be?


RAMADELUKA SERETSE
The outgoing Minister of Defence, Justice and Security who happens to be the President’s cousin who was humiliated by his longstanding rival Kgotla Autlwetse by a huge margin. Efforts to save Seretse under blurry circumstances by the leadership were futile following a blunt refusal by the electorates through the ballot.

Contrary to popular view, Khama did not bring him back as a specially elected member and we now know that he will not be coming back to parliament. Insiders say the fact that he was not brought back as a specially elected member despite been close to Khama and having led the Ministry so close to Khama should be a serious warning that something has been spared for him. Others however hint that he may have refused to go back to the Ministry he has been heading owing to his squabbles with the Directorate of Intelligence Services, Isaac Kgosi. Surely he cant be jobless. Where is Ndelu heading?


KELETSO RAKHUDU
Some say he actually did not want to contest the general elections but was forced by his party into doing so. One can buy it by reflecting on the manner in which he instantly responded to the news of his loss to former Gaborone city Council Mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa. He was jubilant and stress-free. A hustler and streetwise man whose surviving skills are immeasurable, Rakhudu seems a man going his way and not waiting for Khama.Insiders say should he get something, it will be for him, a bonus. He has hinted to some that he intends to persue his business interests.


REV JOHN SEAKGOSING
He lost the primary elections and has been very active in the party, assisting it to wrestle power from the opposition. He is said not to be either nearer or distant from Khama’s heart. A diplomatic and loyal fellow, Seakgosing many say will do well on a diplomatic mission and is highly likely to go there.


PHANDU SKELEMANI
He has long lost primary elections. A trained lawyer, former judge and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who many have been faulted for Botswana’s confusing foreign policy. Often indiscreet, observers said Skelemani’s tone on sensitive international issues was Khama’s voice speaking through Skelemani. A tired-looking fellow who seems not eager to pursue further his political and professional interests. He has been silent of late and has not been featuring in the party’s campaigns. Insiders say he might not feature in Khama’s political rewards plan for allies and cronies.


GAOTLHAETSE MATLHABAPHIRI
Has been left devastated by the unexpected loss to Mahommed Khan. A loyal fellow to the Khama regime who was swapped with Somolekae. One of the tried and tested members of the party whose commitment to the BDP cannot be disputed. He will surely be considered when the cake is divided.


PETER SIELE
One of Khama’s trusted men, aging gracefully, he has not done badly on his assignments. He  lost the primary elections and consequently he was in distress. He initially complained that he was beaten unfairly at the notorious Bulela Ditswe but soon relented. Like many of his fellow democrats, he has been campaigning for the party in times of need and will surely expect something. His anguish following his loss was a clear testimony that he relies heavily on the political office and would want to be given something as well. However, insiders say Khama may consider him a spent force and pick others ahead of him. His consideration they say, will depend on the number of vacancies.


LEBONAAMANG MOKALAKE
He lost the primary elections and like others, has been trying by all means to impress through various means and avenues. He however has been looking a worried man. Some say he has headed a lucrative Ministry and should have made a few land transactions to fall back on in case of any calamity.


OREEDITSE MOLEBATSI
Ousted by Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in the primaries. An active member of the party whose relation with Khama is unclear. His presence and absence in the government and associated arms, insiders say, is insignificant in Khama’s book.


JOHNY SWARTS
A man who was gradually turning the Ministry of Science, Infrustructure and Technology around. A fighter and commited professional. He will surely be among those considered for something.
 

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