Vice President Ian Khama was forced to back down after he tried to block President Festus Mogae from reshuffling Cabinet four months ago ? it has been revealed.
The two men sparred over the issue until Mogae took a unilateral decision to reshuffle his cabinet.
To push his case, Khama is understood to have called in the ruling party?s veteran council made up of former ministers Archibald Mogwe , Gaositwe Chiepe and former Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Jerry Gabaake, to convince Mogae not to reshuffle the cabinet when he was about to leave the presidency.
The reappointment of Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Daniel Kwelagobe (especially Kedikilwe) were a personal affront to Khama, who is said to have argued that such a reshuffle could wait as Mogae was already on his way out.
Insiders claim that Khama felt strongly that it was not proper for Mogae to effect change when he was on his way out.
The latest revelation will increase concern among BDP members who feel that the relationship between President Mogae and Vice President Khama has deteriorated lately as a result of Khama?s early and preemptive preparations for a takeover.
The revelation will further embarrass government, especially against the backdrop of increasing defiance from the backbenches in parliament who strongly feel that President Festus Mogae has become a lame duck president who is too detached from the daily affairs of his government and has surrendered power to his deputy.
As a result, Members of Parliament from the back benches this week stopped the Security and Intelligence Bill and the Judges Pensions Bill arguing that government motives were not sincere.
Khama?s primary concern in blocking Mogae?s reshuffle was that such a reshuffle would necessarily mean that Khama would have little room to maneuver upon ascending to the Presidency, leaving him bogged down with cabinet ministers from Mogae?s administration.
?That is the biggest problem with limited presidential terms. The dilemma is that you have a president who is on his way out but enjoys all the prerogative powers until the last day. That limits the role of his successor,? said an insider who was involved in the behind the scenes attempts to broker an agreement between the President and his Deputy.
Mogae, however, resisted all mediation, and finally took a unilateral decision to bring Kwelagobe and Kedikilwe back into cabinet.
The President is said to have made it clear that the schism inside the ruling Botswana Democratic Party brought about by the alienation into the wilderness of Kwelagobe and Kedikilwe happened during his time, and that it was only fair and in order that he be the one to correct the anomaly, lest history judged him badly as a president who presided over fuelling of factionalism inside the party.
Mogae, however, made it clear that not only did the reshuffle remain his prerogative, but he also had agreed in principle during the Tlokweng reconciliation retreats that he would effect cabinet changes that would bring back into the mainstream fold the faction led by Kedikilwe and Kwelagobe.