For Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top echelons, not all that glitters is gold. Reports coming from both Tsholetsa and Parliament depicts discontentment from some Members of Parliament and the Presidency concerning Vice President Slumber Tsogwane’s failure to stamp authority, WeekendPost is reliably informed.
Meanwhile President Masisi has also takes interest on how the Vice President conducts his business. President Masisi wants more from the man he appointed and endorsed as VP and party Chairman, ahead of other aspirants in Samson Guma and Tshekedi Khama in 2018. When he was elevated to these positions, Tsogwane was hailed as a man who knows his ceiling and he will not develop ‘ideas’ of grabbing more power as party Chairman.
His ‘intelligence, humility and hard work’ were also added as the reasons why President chose him. Masisi has previously indicated that he opted for Tsogwane as Vice President because he believed the Boteti West Member of Parliament—who is also the longest serving in Parliament— will bring stability to the party. The BDP leader further said, Tsogwane did not ask for the Vice Presidency, and that he is the one who enticed him, and subsequently he agreed.
However discontentment emerged last year prior to elections when Masisi realised that Tsogwane was not measuring up to the task. “Elections are hectic and Masisi expected Tsogwane to actively campaign and recruit opposition members into the BDP fold. That was not the case, and the President started to have other thoughts about his VP as he had to work hard in the campaigns and be a poster boy too,” said a source.
However, after the election, Masisi decided to throw his weight behind Tsogwane. Tsogwane was endorsed by 42 Members of Parliament, earning extra endorsement votes from opposition MPs. “Another concern is the parliamentary business. The President believes VP who has over 20 years in the house should stamp his authority and depict institutional memory in a number of matters rather than being over powered by newcomers including those from his own party. In short he should be able to defend his party initiatives and government decision with ease,” explains a source this week.
Tsogwane’s failure to reprimand BDP legislators he deemed ‘anti’ BDP and later reported them to Masisi is another indication of an accident waiting to happen, it has been said. Tsogwane has never enjoyed goodwill within the party, and it has been Masisi who has been doing the bidding for him. “Look at what he does every time he has to defend the party on the Parliament floor. He turns into mockery because of failure to apply himself and this taints the party and his office,” said one MP.
BDP members are also lamenting that as VP, Tsogwane should be pushing for implementation of a number of government initiatives that are stalled, “but he is folding his arms.” “But now since there are no more actions that require VP to defend government or the party, he was expected to be flying high showing off his government dexterity in Parliament but he is not,” adds a source. Masisi’s loss of confidence in his assistant is reported to have impacted negatively in the developmental agenda of the country as he is limited strategically.
“This has decreased his thinking nucleus as most of his advisors are not politicians. In reality, VP was supposed to be leading the clique of advisors, coming up with ideas on government matters as well as at party level.” Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay has however defended Tsogwane, arguing that he is a man who loves and always defends the BDP. “That is why opposition MPs like to grill him. They are doing so because they notice how much he protects the party,” Kablay contends.
“He is a man who also likes discipline. That is why at times he has to call some of our members to order, if he feels they are attacking their own party.” In relation to Masisi, the Chief Whip is of the view that Tsogwane highly respects him. “On many occasions when the MPs want something he will rather wait for his senior so that they can take decision collectively,” he said. “It is a sign of good working relation between the two. Of course here and there some will raise concerns over him but it has not been officially discussed in party platforms, it is more like corridor talks. So, to me he is very committed to both the party and the President.”
Going into the party’s elective congress later this year, Masisi is reportedly a worried man as he will have to double his effort if he wants his preferred candidates to make core of the party Central Committee. It is moments like those that the VP will come in handy but Tsogwane has proven not to be a political pugilist. Once regarded as a strategist by Masisi, the BDP Chairman has always avoided being entangled in factional wars throughout his tenure as MP. Tsogwane only developed interest in the run up to 2017 congress, after being coaxed by Masisi, who was then running as party chairman.
Running on Masisi’s invincible slate, Tsogwane was voted as one of the five additional members. A political scientist, Dr Mpaphi Teedzani is of the view that Masisi opted for Tsogwane because he knew they can work together better. “Remember when he chose him he wanted someone who wouldn’t go overboard and be selfish and he credited him (VP) for his humility, this is what he wanted. He (Masisi) has experience of being a VP, he could have just wanted someone who is brave enough and who could take bullets for him not the current one.” Teedzani says, it is difficult for Masisi to demote Tsogwane as it has never happened before.
“That one is impossible,” he continued. “He would do well as a Minister than VP, and I believe there are some within the party that could fare better in that position because people have shown their prowess when given a chance.” Tsogwane has been a Boteti West MP since 1999. Before last year’s elections Tsogwane was to throw in the towel when it came to the political game, but he was persuaded by some BDP activists including Guma to contest.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.