President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s first forty days in office are a blow by blow reenact ion of the script from International political and economic risk assessment companies which have warned that, business as usual will not work for Botswana if the new president is to attract foreign investors, create jobs and win the 2019 general elections.
Masisi’s first major task was to appoint a new cabinet. The political and risk assessment bodies had recommended that Masisi should reach over to Nonofo Molefhi to heal the Botswana democratic party factions.
The PRS group which provides, quant-driven political and country risk analyses and forecasting to clients which includes central banks, multilateral organizations, transnational firms, and leading academics has warned that “the BDP leadership election held in July 2017 was a divisive affair, and it remains unclear whether Mokgweetsi intends to reward his friends or pursue a rapprochement with his detractors. His choice of vice president will serve as useful guide in that regard. Among the top contenders are Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who backed Mokgweetsi’s election as BDP chairman, and Minister of Health Dorcas Makgatho, who is also the head of the party’s Women’s League, and supported Nonofo Molefhi’s bid for the chairman’s post.
The incoming president’s strategy will affect the BDP’s ability to take full advantage of yet another split within the opposition forces. The UDC coalition finally managed to bring the BCP into the fold last year, but a recent split in the ranks of the BMD has given rise to the formation a new non-UDC party, the Alliance for Progressives, and the failure of the larger parties in the bloc to consult the BPP on a new constitution for the UDC creates the potential for the further fragmentation of the opposition alliance ahead of next year’s elections.
IHS Markit, a global information provider based in London, United Kingdom which helps investors and capital markets to reduce risk and improve operational efficiency on the other hand stated that, “Masisi is most likely to be nominated by the BDP as its presidential candidate for the polls (2019 general elections), although “he faces the challenges of diversifying the economy, curbing BDP corruption, and managing the threat of factional divisions within the ruling party from groups such as that led by Presidential Affairs Minister Nonofo Molefhi.”
The analysts say a positive indicator for the BDP in the upcoming 2019 general election would be any successful prosecutions of public officials involved in corruption, as this would strengthen Masisi’s candidacy.
These sentiments were shared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) a British business within the Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis which stated that “the imminent transfer of the presidency from Ian Khama to his vice president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, will provide the latter with 18 months to settle into the top job before leading the incumbent BDP into the next general election campaign in October 2019. However, he will inherit a financial scandal involving possible money-laundering and diversion of funds by a company contracted to provide investment services to the NPF, Botswana’s sovereign wealth fund. Mokgweetsi already faces the challenge of uniting a party that has long been troubled by factional infighting, and his task will become all the more daunting if the investigation into suspicious financial transactions reveals that the BDP is guilty of more than just poor judgment.”
In his cabinet appointment, Masisi reached over to Nonofo Molefhi and his faction in an apparent bid to heal the factionalism in the party as recommended by risk assessment organisations. He appointed Molefhe to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and tasked him with overseeing other ministers. This made Molefhi the third in line after Vice president Slumber Tsogwane. Masisi also appointed a number of Molefhi’s supporters to his cabinet.
The decision to drop former Ministers Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele who had been implicated in corruption allegations and to fire the former Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services Isaac Kgosi is also straight out of the pages of the risk assessment reports.
The global risk assessment groups were especially harsh on Kgosi whom the singled out for prosecution. President Masisi is also likely to cut back the Botswana Defence Force expenditure and reverse the Gripen Fighter jets deal that was entered into with SAAB Sweden by former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Global risk assessment groups also spoke out against Khama’s “fondness for the armed forces has led him to buy an unnecessary arsenal of fighter jets, tanks and armored vehicles. He has overseen an excessively rigid visa regime, stemming the inflow of talent. Corruption has spread on his watch and the bullying Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), run by his confidant, Isaac Kgosi, has become far too big for its boots”, stated the EIU.