BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Former Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama (TK) has expressed his shock and disappointment at the recent decision by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to move him away from the ministry.
Although he had been warned of the impending cabinet reshuffle Tshekedi, by his own admission, could never have been prepared for the call he received while in Europe on Friday morning.
“Yes I received call from Masisi this morning informing me I have been moved to the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development,” Tshekedi, who was in Poland on official duty, told Sunday Standard in a telephone interview.
The new Youth Minister could not hide his disappointment. “I am surprised because I thought the President would wait until after the 2019 General Elections before considering these changes. Why now?”
He said the reshuffle will affect the plans he already had in place to develop the tourist industry further. “You should already know about all the employment and developments in tourism that happened under my watch. The country’s tourism industry was on the right track. What can anyone achieve in a new ministry given we are left with only nine months to elections?,” Tshekedi said , adding, “I have been pursuing a very crucial tourism market for the past two and a half years and just yesterday they opened up to us, and then I wake up to this (cabinet reshuffle).”
Tshekedi said at the time of the interview that he had not yet spoken to his brother, former President Ian Khama, who appointed him to the ministry. “My brother is currently in Khawa where I cannot reach him and as such we have not discussed the matter yet.”
Somehow, Tshekedi believes the cabinet reshuffle is likely to have a bearing on the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s performance come 2019. “We have seen a paradigm shift in Batswana’s voting patterns hence we cannot afford to be making such unnecessary changes,” he told Sunday Standard.
Despite the disappointment Tshekedi said he was ready to hit the ground running.
“Of course I would have loved to have stayed in the Ministry of Tourism but I am not going to sit down and start whining. The shock has passed now.”
He said he was aware of “certain” people who were intimidated by his success but he will not be “bullied”. He said while he was not better placed to understand issues concerning young people he was prepared to approach his new role with the same “passion and zeal” he displayed at the Ministry of Tourism . “I hate bureaucracy. I will put them under pressure to perform at their highest level.” He said he would look to former Youth Minister Thapelo Olopeng to assist him with matters relating to the ministry. “I called Olopeng this morning and told him not to think I’m the one who chose to take over the ministry.”
Speaking to Sunday Standard in Maun days before then Vice President Masisi ascended to the Presidency in April this year, Tshekedi had sensed an early exit from the ministry he survived Masisi’s first cabinet. He expressed concerns that he could not be sure whether his successor would have the same passion for conservation as he has.
President Masisi this Friday instituted a cabinet reshuffle that saw Kitso Mokaila returning to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism. Dorcas Makgato replaced Mokaila at the Ministry of Transport and Communications while Ngaka Ngaka replaced her at the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration, and Gender Affairs.Thapelo Olopeng has been moved to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, previously held by Ngaka, while Tshekedi replaced Olopeng at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development.