Ex-BDP backbenchers map the future
Scores of defeated former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) backbenchers could found the going tough outside parliament. While most admit that politics is not a full time job, some had actually not seen their defeats coming.
The 2014 historic general elections saw opposition gaining unprecedented 20 seats. Among the backbench losers is veteran politician who served forty five years in Parliament, Daniel Kwelagobe, and philanthropist Robert Masitara, and former defectors in Botsalo Ntuane, Odirile Motlhale and Mephato Reatile.
Evidently the majority of defeated cabinet ministers will be shoehorned in various plum posts locally or sent on ambassadorial mission abroad as it has been the norm.
Already Khama has brought back two allies Kitso Mokaila and Kenneth Matambo through the special election avenue. The two retained their cabinet post as Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources and Finance and Development Planning respectively. Mokaila lost Goodhope-Mabule constituency to Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s James Mathokgwane while Matambo did not contest for a parliamentary seat.
Other nominations include Dr Unity Dow who lost to Gilbert Mangole of UDC in Kgatleng East and former Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale. Molale has since been appointed Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.
It is expected that majority of defeated MPs who were close to Khama circle will get ambassadorial posts. Already, former Lands and Housing Minister Lebonaamang Mokaila is touted to be heading to Zambia for ambassadorial post. Mokalake lost to newly elected Boteti East MP Sethomo Lelatisitswe in the BDP primaries last year. But the appointment is subject to Zambia, a country that is still mourning the death of President Michael Sata, approving the name.
Meanwhile former Commerce and Industry minister Tebelelo Seretse has been recalled from the United States where she has been an ambassador. It is understood that the post will be given to one of general elections losers. Seretse’s early return to associated to her differences with newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. Seretse also has vested interests in the Serowe South constituency and chairmanship of the ruling party.
Former Leader of Opposition and founding member of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Botsalo Ntuane is expected concentrate on his businesses. But if lady luck smiles on him, he may get an ambassadorial role. His chances rest solely with his association with minister Venson-Moitoi as compared to President Khama. Insiders say Ntuane eroded Khama’s trust in him because of his active role in forming the BMD. Therefore, Ntuane’s chances of gaining favour from Khama range from slim to none.
Ntuane has been involved in a number of businesses for the past years. Many believe that Ntuane retraced his footsteps to BDP in an effort to save his business interest, but without political power, business acumen will ensure survival. Ntuane should however not be ruled out of politics, the former BDP Executive Secretary could still redeem his political career, but it would not be with the help of Khama.
Odirile Motlhale, who lost Ramotswa to Botswana Congress Party (BCP) face the same conundrum. Motlhale is the former BMD treasurer who retraced his footsteps to BDP in October 2012. Motlhale like Ntuane despite being one of the bright MPs during his tenure, he has never been a close ally of president Khama.
Contacted for comment former BMD Treasurer Odirile Motlhale noted that he will be pursuing his business interest in the next five years. “Politics is not a full time job, I have to do something in the meantime to earn a leaving,” he said, “Since I am no longer a Member of Parliament my only option is to pursue business.” Motlhale in the past have been linked with a move to network giant MTN in South Africa.
Another ex-BDP backbencher, whose future many can only second guess is Mephato Reatile. Reatile first arrived in parliament in 2004, after beating BDP veteran Michael Tshipinare for Ngwaketse West constituency. He successfully defended his seat under BNF ticket in 2009 before defecting to the ruling party in 2012 amid differences with BNF leadership. Touted as one of the rising politicians under Khama leadership Reatile help the BDP to win Letlhakeng West (now Takatokwane) bye-election following the untimely passing of area MP Maxwell Motowane.
BDP roped Reatile as the campaign manager and their faith on him paid dividends as the BDP retained the constituency through Ngaka Ngaka. Mephato lost his seat to UDC’s Shawn Nthaile in the now Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency.
In a brief interview Reatile said as a party they will work hard to reinstate the ruling BDP to its dominant position. He said they will want to correct the mistakes that saw them take a knock in certain constituencies. Reatile who is BDP’s Political Education and Elections Committee is confident that his party will bounce back.
The fall of Daniel Kwelagobe could spell end of road for him. The veteran politician has held a number of cabinet posts in the government and party and structures. Khama never had a healthy relationship with Kwelagobe and it is highly likely that the former BDP strongman could be left to die a natural death outside the government and BDP. Kwelagobe’s 45 year parliament reign was brought to an end by University of Botswana academic Dr Tlamelo Mmatli.
In the past, former cabinet ministers went on to land plum post in the corporate industry especially state owned entities. The notable names include Jacob Nkate, who was roped in to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the then Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA), now Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC); another former MP Ronald Ridge was appointed head of e-Government Department while Neo Moroka joined De Beers Botswana as Regional Director or CEO.
Politicians who have served before as Members of Parliament usually find it hard to make a comeback after defeat. Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando who lost the Gaborone central to the UDC is one personality who will attract a lot of interest. Many want to see how he plots his comeback after a loss associated to his party’s withdrawal from the Umbrella project. He is expected to be involved in private business in the meantime.
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP: “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”
Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.