Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe, was on Friday dropped from Cabinet ending days of speculation.
Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, issued a press statement Friday evening that the President had appointed Margaret Nasha as Minister of Presidential Affairs “as a result of his decision not to continue with Honourable Daniel K Kwelagobe as a Cabinet Minister in accordance with Section 43 (C) of the Constitution”.
Section 43(C) states that the “office of any minister or assistant minister shall become vacant if the holder of the office is removed from office by the president”.
Khama decided to drop Kwelagobe from Cabinet after the ruling party National Chairman told the president more than once to his face that if he is forced to choose between a position in cabinet and the party chairmanship, he would opt for the party chairmanship.
This was after President Khama called a meeting of BDP Members of Parliament and Central Committee where he gave them an ultimatum to choose between party Central Committee positions and a possibility of being appointed to Cabinet.
Kwelagobe, who was the BDP Secretary General for 27 years before becoming Chairman, has made it clear that he will defend the BDP Constitution, arguing that the party Constitution would be his guiding principle, especially since cabinet appointments were the President’s prerogative.
Khama gave MPs and ministers a week to make their choices and this expired in Friday when he decided to drop Kwelagobe from Cabinet.
Both Kwelagobe and Khama reiterated their positions at a party National Council last week Saturday.
The stand off between Khama and Kwelagobe is expected to polarize the civil service and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. The Office of the President this week moved swiftly to try and neutralize Kwelagobe’s support base in the civil service. The Permanent Secretary to the President this week dispatched letters to government departments ordering them to recognize the Botswana Government Union (BOGOU) which has hitherto been marginalized.
BOGOU is currently fighting the Botswana Manual Workers Union, which is believed to be sympathetic to Kwelagobe. The Botswana Manual Workers Union boss, Johnson Motshwarakgole, is Kwelagobe’s cousin.
Finance and Development Planning Minister Baledzi Gaolathe is also reported to have wanted out of Cabinet but was persuaded to stay. Speculation was rife Friday morning that Gaolathe’s resignation would be announced later in the day. The finance minister who is known for financial austerity is understood to be unhappy with Khama’s expensive populist schemes like the constituency league and the government graduate internship programme.
The Permanent Secretary to the President also announced that Ambrose Masalila has been appointed Minister of Local Government to replace Margaret Nasha.
Oreeditse Molebatsi, on the other hand, has been appointed Assistant Minister of Local Government while Keletso Rakhudu has been appointed Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
See InDepth for details.