Friday, December 3, 2021

Cabinet losing confidence in President Masisi

Mystery surrounds circumstances under which a cabinet meeting was cancelled on Wednesday this week.

Ministers received text messages Tuesday evening notifying them that there would be no cabinet meeting.

Both the president and his deputy were inside the country.

When the president is not available as was the case the previous week when he had gone on an official trip to Zambia, it falls on his deputy to chair the cabinet meetings.

Sunday Standard has learnt that at the last cabinet that was chaired by Vice President Slumber Tsogwane it was fireworks as ministers vented frustrations that government was letting down Batswana.

In the end cabinet sent the vice president to relay their frustrations to the president that the general feeling is that government has not delivered on its promises since winning elections and that using Covid 19 as the reason was becoming a pretext that Batswana will not accept.

Cabinet ministers also made it clear that the general feeling is that many of them are worried if elections were held under similar circumstances they would lose power.

Cabinet is worried that before acquiring the big chunk of land in the Okavango Delta, the Office of the president did not even bother to bring the matter before cabinet for discussion.

“We have previously been briefed by the Attorney General to the effect that we are only advisors and that the president is the sole decision maker. What we are seeing effectively proves that,” said one minister who briefed Sunday Standard on the tensed relations at cabinet table.

He did not want his identity revealed because discussing cabinet matters is not allowed.

Press secretary to the President Batlhalefi Leagajang did not respond to questions on circumstances surrounding the cancellation of a weekly cabinet meeting.

Another minister said the idea of building an upmarket resort for the president in the Okavango was first mooted recently at a meeting that included Louis Vuitton executives, acting Permanent Secretary to the President, minister Lefoko Moagi and Minister Peggy Serame among others.

Cabinet wants government to back-track on its plan to build an upmarket resort for the president in the Okavango.

They are also unhappy with a decision to buy Tautona Lodge in Ghanzi.

“Tell me who in their proper state of mind would want to buy a lodge under the current economic climate?” said a cabinet minister who is also close to the underlying dynamics.

Louis Vuitton which is entering the Botswana diamond sector is expected to play an important role the setting up of the new resort, especially on branding matters, the minister said.

“Cabinet has lost confidence on the president. He likes to tell his friends that he has no confidence on us. But he has failed to provide guidance and leadership. Tell me what we have done since coming into office? What are we going to say to Batswana when we need to face them at our next campaign? It cannot continue like this,” said the second minister.

The revolt inside cabinet and party is partly fueled by collapsed relations between the president and secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party Mpho Balopi.

Balopi is also in cabinet. One of the ministers who briefed Sunday Standard on the matter said Balopi has long stopped making contributions at cabinet unless he is really required to speak.

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