Faced with a revolt of the Botswana Democratic Party parliamentary caucus in late 2014 over who was going to become the Vice President of the republic, President Ian Khama called all his Members of Parliament into a private meeting room and asked each one of them to write down on a piece of paper their choice for Vice President.
According to sources close to events at the time the person who scooped most nominations was Nonofo Molefhi (Minister of Infrastructure, Science and technology), followed by Pelonomi Venson (Minister of Foreign Affairs), and then Mokgweetsi Masisi and lastly Tshekedi Khama.
There were a number of people who got single nominations raising suspicions that they had nominated themselves.
The president had from the beginning made it known to Members of Parliament that he would not in the end read out the verdict but that he wanted to use the outcome as a benchmark with which to inform himself of the preferred choices among his Members of Parliament.
After the secret ballot exercise the President went on to nominate Masisi as his Vice President.
The secret ballot exercise had come at a time when the nation had ground to a halt over whether the election of the Vice President by Parliament should be by a public show of hands or through a secret ballot. Its results have never been made public.
The matter of whether to vote by secret ballot or show of hand was ultimately resolved at the highest court on the land where the judges unanimously agreed that the voting be through a secret ballot.
While Masisi’s name won the day, this period tested even the long standing relationships, when at one time Parks Tafa, a BDP lawyer and president Khama’s close confidante told President Khama to his face that he was seriously considering quitting the BDP over the differences.
Khama did not take kindly to that and immediately told Tafa that he disliked being threatened. Peace was however restored when Tafa said his statements and actions had been misconstrued.
Observers inside the BDP are quick to point out that the outcome of that secret ballot continues to cast a long shadow over relations inside the BDP today as the party braces itself for a tumultuous succession period.
This week Vice President gave an interview falling short of pleading with his potential challengers to let him through without a contest.
But if news that Molefhi was indeed the winner of the secret vote is true, it will add buoyancy to those who are lining up to challenge Masisi in 2019 sensing that indeed the man is not invincible.