Thursday, September 24, 2020

Two years later, Khama finally gets private secretary he wants

It took a long time coming but former president Lieutenant General Ian Khama, finally has a private secretary he is comfortable with, one he has been working with.

Having acted as Khama’s private secretary for two years now, Mabedi Letsholo, was substantively appointed to the post on August 27. That ends a two-year saga that saw a new battle front opening up in the war between the former president and his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama’s first choice was the former Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence service and Security, Colonel Kgosi, who had been Khama’s aide-de-camp in the Botswana Defence Force. When Khama left the BDF in 1998 and became Vice President, Kgosi tagged along and becoming the former’s private secretary. Kgosi would later leave Khama’s office to found DISS but was fired by Masisi in his second month as president.

The latter development complicated Kgosi’s return to the civil service and while names of numerous candidates would be mentioned in the media, no appointment was made until early this year. One name on that list was that of the former Shoshong MP and assistant minister in Khama’s government, Phillip Makgalemele. The latter lost his seat in the 2019 general election in what was believed to be a Botswana Democratic Party stronghold. One reason that has been given to explain this loss is that the BDP didn’t throw its weight behind Makgalemele’s electoral campaign because it was unsure whether he was still loyal to the party or to Khama, who had left to found his own – the Botswana Patriotic Front. In that context, that Makgalemele could become Khama’s private secretary seemed a real possibility.

However, the appointing authority (being the Office of the President which manages offices of former presidents) ended up appointing Loeto Porati early this year. At the time, the former was Acting Director of Tribal Administration in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural administration and substantively, Masunga District Commissioner. Khama refused to take Porati and someone in his circle alleged to Sunday Standard that Porati had connections to “Cava”, a faction that took root in the BDP at a time that Khama was still a member. Masisi led Cava while Khama led another faction called New Jerusalem.

At the time that all this drama was playing itself out, Letsholo worked as acting private secretary to Khama – which communicated the very clear message that there were no trust issues that made the principal jittery. When Khama was still president, Letsholo had worked in his private office as a personal assistant.

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