The appointment of former Education Minister and Botswana Democratic Party heavyweight, Jacob Nkate, as the new Chief Executive Officer of government’s economic driver, Botswana Export and Development Authority (BEDIA), has been met with hostility by opposition parties, who view it as a reward for sychopathy rather that an appointment on merit.
The former Ngami legislator, who found himself jobless after losing the last general elections, was on Wednesday given a lifeline when he was appointed BEDIA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).The position fell vacant after Dorcus Makgatho-Malesu resigned to join the legislature after she was appointed a specially elected Member of Parliament.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s Publicity Secretary and Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, stated that his party does not welcome Nkate’s appointment.
“The BDP acts like national parastatals belong to them, and they routinely use them to reward members who are deemed to be loyal to the presidency,” said Saleshando.
He stated that it is wrong for the ruling party to appoint election losers to top positions at the taxpayer’s expense.
“Nkate failed to deliver as an MP and minister. How do we expect him to deliver in a parastatal that is solely meant to drive this country’s economy?” he said.
He added that Nkate’s appointment to BEDIA has dented the corporation’s credibility as it is effectively led by a tainted figure whose reputation precedes him.
“Nkate left the Ngami constituency and MoE in a mess. What Khama’s government is doing is simply rewarding a failure,” he said.
Botswana National Front (BNF) leader Otsweletse Moupo also criticised government’s decision to appoint Nkate as BEDIA’s CEO. Moupo said that Nkate’s appointment is proof that the BDP is extending patronage to those who are largely viewed as Khama loyalists.
“It doesn’t surprise us. The man actually has no pride. His acceptance of the new post, which is in effect a demotion, after serving in cabinet for 15 years, is a show of desperation. I would want to believe that he is educated enough not to seek the patronage of government,” he said.
But Nkate dismissed the opposition politicians’ words as rantings of disillusioned individuals, saying that he is not up to any verbal spat with politicians, but is rather looking forward to the challenges awaiting him at BEDIA.
“I can only confirm that I have been appointed. If anybody wants to know they must check with those in charge of the process,” he said.
Nkate would also not be drawn into discussing how he intends to turn things around at BEDIA. He is expected to tender his resignation from the BDP central committee as he prepares to take up the post on the 1st of January next year.