President Ian Khama has sacked his Trade and Industry minister, Baledzi Gaolathe.
Gaolathe, who has been in the public service for over forty years, has lately had a running problem with his health.
On Friday Government’s Communication and Information System (GCIS) office issued a press statement announcing ‘changes in cabinet’.
According to the statement “His Excellency the President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Honourable Baledzi Gaolathe, have agreed that the latter be relieved of his Ministerial duties on account of his ill health.”
However, Information reaching Sunday Standard is that there was never any agreement between Khama and Gaolathe.
It is understood that Gaolathe was slapped with a letter from President Khama by Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale, who is also cabinet secretary, at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg right on his sick bed.
The letter informed Gaolathe that he had been dropped from cabinet and that Khama was in the process of filling the vacancy.
Speaking from Johannesburg, where he is hospitalised, Gaolathe could not confirm nor deny that he had been sacked from Khama’s cabinet. He instead referred all enquiries to the Office of the President.
“Those are matters which should be answered by the Office of the President, you can take those matters with the President and the PSP,” said Gaolathe.
According to sources, Molale delivered the letter to Gaolathe on Thursday just a day after Gaolathe was released from Intensive Care Unit. Gaolathe is now in the general wards from where he is still recuperating.
“Molale arrived the day after Gaolathe was released from ICU. Why couldn’t they send someone more senior like the VP,”said a close family friend who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Contacted for comment Molale refused to confirm or deny the allegation and said that he was not available to comment.
In an interview, Director at BGCIS, Jeff Ramsay said that he was not aware that Gaolathe had been fired.
“I don’t know anything about that, I have every reason to believe that the President consulted with Mr Gaolathe,”said Ramsay.
Meanwhile President Khama has appointed Dorcus Makgatho-Malesu, formerly Assistant minister of Trade and Industry, the substantive minister at the ministry of Trade and Industry. She shall be appointed by Maxwell Motowane. On the other hand Gaotlhaetse Mathabaphiri who was dropped from cabinet last year has been roped back as Assistant minister of Health.
One of the longest serving cabinet ministers, Gaolathe has served the public service in many capacities including as Permanent Secretary, Central Bank Governor, Debswana MD and a board member of the Botswana Development Corporation. He was in the BDC board for 24 years, an achievement that has made him the longest member to date.