Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi’s quest for SADC top post has seemingly reignited relations between Botswana and South African Heads of State. After last week’s failed attempt to persuade Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi to support Magosi’s bid, President Mokgweetsi Masisi paid his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa a visit this week as part of his regional campaign to garner support for his PSP who is running for the position of SADC’s Executive Secretary.
This is only the second time in three years that Masisi has met his SA counterpart one-on-one following the former’s 2018 courtesy call that has never been reciprocated. The two presidents took the opportunity to assure their citizens of continued cooperation between the two countries with Masisi emphasizing SA’s role as Botswana’s biggest trading partner. Relations between the two have however done little (if anything) to demonstrate this fact. The relationship between the two governments has remained, at best, a marriage of convenience.
In fact, President Masisi’s newly discovered bromance with his Namibian counterpart Hage Geingob has set tongues wagging about Botswana’s direction in relation to forming a new strategic economic partnership to reduce over dependence on SA.As if to answer critics about the nature of their relationship Masisi reassured his SA counterpart of Botswana’s loyalty to his government.
“President Ramaphosa must know that Botswana remains faithful and loyal to his party and that we will never allow anything to wedge between us or allow for anything that might disturb the peace between ourselves and South Africa.”
Ramaphosa also reiterated the importance of the partnership between the countries. “We had a conversation about a variety of matters of common interest to the two countries and the region. We have had time to speak about economic integration in SADC and very good relations between Botswana and South Africa that stem from many years.
”Masisi, currently the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, also used the opportunity to consult Ramaphosa on matters of security in the region as the incoming Chairperson. It is not clear if Ramaphosa will visit President Masisi for further briefing on the role as has been SADC tradition. Masisi visited Zimbabwe in 2020 as the then incoming chairperson, taking over from President Emmerson Mnangagwa. President Masisi also sought SA’s support for Botswana’s candidate for SADC Executive Secretary position, PSP Magosi who faces competition from DRC’s Faustin Luanga Mukela.
The DRC candidate is currently a Senior Official at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where he has been working since 1996 while Magosi is currently the PSP and Head of the Botswana Public Service, as well as Secretary to Botswana Cabinet.Magosi served as Deputy Permanent to the President, from May 2018 to February 2020 before taking over from Carter Morupisi.
He has served also as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. He also served as the Coordinator of Public Service Reforms, Office of the President, from January 2004 to February 2007. “Magosi possesses comprehensive understanding and knowledge about the workings of SADC, having served as the Director of Human Resources and Administration at the SADC Secretariat, from March 2017 to April 2018.
At the private sector level, Mr. Magosi served as the Cluster Head of Human Resources, Consumer Banking, Southern Africa, at Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, from January 2013 to October 2014; and, Group Head of Human Resources, at Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited, from July 2010 to December 2012,” Government Communications have said of Magosi’s other credentials.
President Masisi and Magosi recently visited the DRC as part of their campaign for the SADC post. It is not clear what the details of their meeting were considering DRC have also fielded their own candidate. The SADC Executive Secretary position, currently held by Tanzania’s Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, becomes vacant in August 2021.Lawrence Tax is the sixth Executive Secretary and first female to hold the position following her appointment in August 2013.