We are on to the second month since Dikgakgamatso Seretse resigned his post as minister of Defence, Justice and Security.
To date, no substantive minister has been appointed to this portfolio.
The ministry of Defence, Justice and Security is too important a ministry to stay for an indefinite time without a substantive minister.
It presides over many key departments and just this financial year got a budget allocation of P3.2 billion.
To go without a minister for this long is worrisome and could give rise to a number of insinuations and suspicions.
For instance, maybe the President has no confidence in other BDP cadres or, alternatively, the post is being reserved for Seretse, as the rumour mill has said, even if the case might take more than a year.
We are of the view that Khama should appoint a new minister of Defence, Justice and Security.
There is no emphasizing the importance of the acting minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Lesego Motsumi, who is also the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, going back to her line ministry and get another minister appointed to the Defence portfolio.
Khama has stressed the need for delivery. How is Motsumi going to deliver for her ministry if she is also expected to lead the defence, Justice and Security ministry? How is she going to perform beyond expectations when she is saddled with two tasks that are even heavier for two individuals?
When President Ian Khama relieved Tati East legislator Guma Moyo of his duties as Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning pending investigations into alleged impropriety, the vacant ministerial position was immediately filled.
In the same breath, when the late Finance and Development Planning Minister, Baledzi Gaolathe, fell ill, the President appointed Kenneth Matambo as minister, given the huge responsibilities that go with the ministry.
Likewise, expectation was that the President would have swiftly acted and appointed a new minister to fill the vacant cabinet position of Defence, Justice and Security following the resignation of Seretse, who is facing a charge of graft.
Practically, Motsumi cannot possibly discharge duties of two ministries that enjoy sizeable amounts of budget allocations for more than a month.
It would be foolhardy to assume that since the courts have not yet pronounced an innocent or guilty verdict on Seretse’s corruption case, Khama can afford to leave the ministerial post vacant.
It is an open secret that for the Defense portfolio, Khama prefers Seretse. However, on his own volition, Seretse has stepped down to at least clear his name and to the best of our recollection his resignation letter does not bear any plea for the post to be kept vacant for his comeback.
Seretse has been a very good minister. But what Khama is doing by creating impressions on indispensability is hideous.
The courts of this land, we believe, will take the task of probing the issues with regards to the allegations leveled against Seretse. Irrespective of Khama or the public‘s intimations on the issue, only the court will deliver a verdict on the guilt or innocence of Seretse.
However, not filling the post creates the impression that whatever the verdict, his ministerial post awaits him. Jobs for cousins, one might be tempted to suspect.
We know for a fact that cabinet appointments are a presidential prerogative, but based on past instances it would only be fair if the post is filled. Even if we assumed the President is still consulting on the issue, a month is more than enough for one to take a decision on whom he feels is the ideal candidate to fill the void, especially since we have so many precedents.
As a presidential prerogative, the appointment or decision not to appoint has to be in the public interest. One wonders whether the President is of the view that it is in the public interest to take so long without appointing a substantive minister of state to such a key portfolio.