When President Ian Khama takes to the parliament podium on November 7 to deliver his State of the Nation address, he will announce that the country’s vice-presidency is changing hands with immediate effect, from incumbent Mompati Merafhe to Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
In a deal that has already been sealed, Kedikilwe has accepted to deputise Khama, although for a limited term until the dissolution of parliament in 2014 in the run up to the general election.
Merafhe, whose health has been faltering in the past few months, has also accepted to hand the baton to his erstwhile nemesis, Kedikilwe. Merafhe accepted Khama’s proposed deal on account of ill-health that has seen him in and out of hospital in the recent past.
“Kedikilwe’s ascendancy to the country’s second top most public office has the blessing of Merafhe. In a closely guarded deal, Khama called both Merafhe and Kedikilwe and prevailed over them. Both men have graciously accepted the deal proposed by the president. However, the deal is not without its conditions. The conditions are that Kedikilwe would assume the position until 2014 when he retires from active politics,” said sources close to the presidency.
“The position trade off deal between the two is an appeasement to both gentlemen who have tirelessly served the ruling party for over two decades. Khama has found it fit to thank the duo for their selfless service to the nation in different capacities in both civil and political spheres,” said the source who added that Kedikilwe was requested to hold the fort while his successor to the vice-presidency is being groomed.
Kedikilwe has already gone public and announced that he would be quitting politics at the dissolution of parliament in 2014. He made the announcement recently at Robelela in his Mmadinare constituency.
Merafhe is expected to do likewise in the near future so that his constituency could start looking for his replacement ahead of the 2014 elections.
Sources close to the presidency indicated that the trade off was made to Kedikilwe when he informed the president of his intentions to retire from active politics in the run up to the 2014 elections.
“When Kedikilwe informed the president of his intentions to retire, Khama offered him the vice-presidency as a token of appreciation for his dedication to the ruling party over the years and his selfless service to the nation from his days as a civil servant. The president, however, made it clear to Kedikilwe that although he was making him vice-president his tenure would only be up to 2014. Kedikilwe gladly accepted,” said the source.
Kedikilwe is not new to the vice ÔÇôpresidency. He acted in that capacity for almost four months this year when Merafhe was given a long leave of absence on account of failing health.
Viewed as the hardest working minister, Kedikilwe became the MP for Mmadinare in 1984 after an illustrious career in the civil service. He has been Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources since 2007.