Monday, June 24, 2024

Masisi’s cabinet imploding?

Minister of Finance, Thapelo Matsheka has been persuaded not to resign from cabinet, Sunday Standard has learnt.

The minister of finance was supposed to have dropped the bombshell after he delivered the budget speech in February.

One of the people that convinced him to stay put is former president Festus Mogae who Dr Matsheka consulted and notified about his unhappiness in government.

One of the sources for his unhappiness is that he is worried that the current government lacks direction.

Apparently Matsheka is not the only minister who is deeply unhappy in government.

The cabinet fall out is deep and wide spread. There is a growing number of ministers who are unhappy inside cabinet.

Others include Mpho Balopi who is also the Secretary General of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

Another is Eric Molale, arguably the one single most experienced hand inside cabinet.

Like Matsheka, Molale is said to have made up his mind not to carry on to the next elections.

The minister of Health and wellness, Edwin Dikoloti is said to be yet another minister who is said to be unhappy especially with the ongoing fight between his ministry and the presidential task force.

Dr Dikoloti inherited the standoff when he arrived from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The standoff between Ministry of Health and the Task Force is said to have paralysed the entire civil service. The power given to the task force, especially on direct procurement is said to be a source of grave levels of corruption playing quietly in government as the State of Emergency keeps being extended.

This too has not gone unnoticed by Matsheka who is said to be now refusing to sign off some of the procurement deals.

In several meetings in full cabinet and also with the president, Matsheka is said to have reiterated that unless they changed the way things are done, by the next elections nothing would have happened.

He is said to have tried to convince his cabinet colleagues to move beyond party politics and focus on the nation at large.

He has also told people closest to him that there are no targets in government, no agenda and nothing against which to gauge progress.

When Sunday Standard approached him with the details, Dr Matsheka flatly denied ever planning to resign from cabinet.

He said he was happy with the progress his team is making at the Ministry of Finance.

He did not want to go any further.

But Sunday Standard is also informed that the finance minister is alarmed by the fact that the Government Investment Account which houses foreign reserves is left with no more than P4 billion.

Government wage bill currently stands at P1.9 billion and P2 billion a month.

Government lack of coordination at the negotiations with De Beers is one thing that has rattled a number of ministers not just Matsheka.

But one Member of Parliament of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party who talked to Sunday standard was adamant that it was an open secret around February that Matsheka was waiting to read the national budget speech and then leave.

The Member of Parliament confirmed a tense relationship between Matsheka and President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

“When he didn’t go all of us were surprised. Now we are hearing that he will be replaced by Peggy Serame,” he added.

A cabinet reshuffle has been said to be on the cards for a while now. When it happens, everybody will be watching to see becomes of Dr Matsheka.

All this comes at a time when the president is said to be eager to replace cabinet secretary and Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Magosi with his deputy, Emma Peloetletse.

“Nobody seems to know what is expected of him. When the president is not abroad, he is busy doing his own things,” said one senior civil servant who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Magosi has been PSP for less than two years. He is one chap who is also said to be frustrating some corrupt practices from happening at the Covid-19 Task Force.

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