Friday, June 9, 2023

Khama outsmarts hostile BDP backbench ÔÇô again

President Ian Khama has pulled off a political coup against a hostile Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbench by withholding the long awaited cabinet reshuffle until after parliament has endorsed his choice of Specially Elected Member of Parliament.

Some BDP members of Parliament have threatened to block Khama’s choice of specially elected MP and bring in their own candidate if they are left out of cabinet when the President announces his reshuffle.

The carrot strategy by the President is to dangle cabinet posts before the BDP parliamentary caucus to entice them into supporting his choice of specially elected MP.

The position of specially elected MP fell vacant this week after Lesego Motsumi resigned from both parliament and cabinet.

A former Minister of Presidential Affairs, Motsumi, who has since been chaffed into the diplomatic service, has been replaced by Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Information passed to The Sunday Standard indicates that President Khama withheld the cabinet reshuffle after he got wind of a possible plot by some BDP Members of Parliament to block his choice of Motsumi’s replacement if they were not brought into cabinet.

A reshuffle was widely expected to have happened on January 24, when ministers reported back to work from a Christmas holiday recess.

“The President is currently very desperate. He is at the moment bargaining with the backbenches to behave before he can reshuffle his cabinet. Because he knows that he is not in control, he is very careful not to annoy the backbench,” said a BDP insider who did not want to be named discussing internal party matters.

Well aware how many of them are dying to become ministers, the president’s strategy entails keeping each one of the MPs hoping they will become ministers until such time that they have endorsed his choice of specially elected MP.

Ms Motsumi’s replacement is expected to head straight into cabinet as a senior minister given the shortage of talent from which the President can choose.

This is not the first time Khama has exploited the lure of cabinet and BDP MPs’ love for power to push ahead his personal agenda.

After the 2009 elections, he used the lure of cabinet to scuttle dissent and break down a group of BDP members of Parliament that had planned to vote with opposition to bring Gomolemo Motswaledi, Sidney Pilane and two other opposition activists as Specially Elected members of parliament.

Together with Pilane, Motswaledi, a former BDP Secretary General who had established himself as a Khama nemesis, were among the ringleaders in a BDP rebellion that later on broke away to form the Botswana Movement for Democracy.

Motswaledi had been suspended from the party after he challenged Khama for abuse of powers after the President appointed party sub committees without consulting the Central Committee.


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