Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has defied President Ian Khama’s instruction not to defend his chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the oncoming Congress due in July.
President Khama had sent one of his blue eyed boys, Parks Tafa as an emissary to nudge Masisi not to defend his party position.
Initially Masisi agreed not to stand, but swiftly and forcefully changed his mind later after meeting his team made up of former BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi, former BDP Chairman Samson Moyo Guma and another party activist Kgang Kgang.
Masisi is also said to have consulted former President Sir Ketumile Masire who advised him to follow his heart, pointing out that nothing barred him from defending his position if he so wished.
At their next meeting with Tafa, the Vice President is said to have defiantly made it clear that he would, against the president’s wishes be contesting and defending the position of Chairman.
This effectively put Khama on notice to do what was in his power, which included dropping Masisi from cabinet where he holds the rank of Vice President, a position that puts him first in line of succession.
Observers are watching closely for any signs that Khama will be acting.
At the height of his powers, Khama took unkindly to such acts of defiance from his subordinates.
They say the time lapse he has taken to act is so much unlike him.
This has sparked suspicions that the President might finally be abnormally conscious of his weakening position as he approaches the final days of his last full year as Head of State.
But another plausible school of thought peddled by cabinet insiders argues that the president’s paralysis stems from the Directorate of Intelligence Services’ support for Masisi. They believe the president is
restrained by the close ties that Masisi enjoys with the head of intelligence services, Isaac Kgosi ÔÇô who while many believe he is a friend to Khama, others believe he has the propensity to run a parallel authority that often defies the President.
Kgosi has a personal and vested interest on who succeeds Khama.
The head of DIS is expected not only to be the one anointing Khama’s successor, but is also expected to use his influence to extract immunity for himself from that person before the coronation.
Last month’s cabinet retreat where cabinet ministers to administer withering scorn Masisi in front of the President was believed to have been an opportunity for Khama to make up his mind about the future of his Vice president in the context that he had also defied him.
Instead Khama pleaded with his ministers to smoke the peace pipe, extend an olive branch, bury the hatchet and establish new ways to work with Masisi.
The president’s response was a terrible let down to a majority of cabinet who were rooting for the Vice President to be dropped.
Two sources close to cabinet said earlier, President Khama had assigned a small team of advisors to assess and advise him on who between cabinet ministers Vincent Seretse and Nonofo Molefhi he could pick as Vice President in the event Masisi was dropped.
While President Khama had wanted to cut a deal for the future of his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama, there are fears that Masisi might have already struck a deal with Samson Moyo Guma to become a future President.
It was Moyo-Guma, in what was suspected to be Masisi’s bidding who harangued and disparaged Tshekedi Khama, thereby robbing the Khama dynasty of an aura of invincibility that had been their main flyer.
Not only is Moyo Guma a leading hardliner and major attack dog on the Masisi camp, he is also a well known transactional politician with undisguised ambitions.