The presidency wasn’t supposed to return to its ancestral home anytime soon but a throwaway remark by the Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi, hints at the possibility of that happening.
In the middle of hauling the third president from Serowe over the coals for shunning international summits, Mmolotsi paused awhile to tender unsolicited advice to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The latter will automatically ascend the presidency on April 1, 2018 when President Ian Khama’s constitutional term ends. Ever since he became president on April 1, 2008 and much to the displeasure of the opposition, Khama has never attended a United Nations or African Union summit which is an odd first in Botswana’s presidential history. He has instead delegated either his vice presidents (he has had three so far) or ministers of foreign affairs ÔÇô two so far.
Weighing in on the issue, the Leader of the Opposition and Bonnington North MP, Duma Boko, has stated that by not attending meetings of the UN General Assembly, Khama is passing up an opportunity to participate in the formulation of public international law.
“The rules of public international law are developed in critical part by the participation and conduct of states through their presidents in international affairs. When the United Nations General Assembly meets in New York and the president is busy in Mosu or wherever he is, that is a sad, a searing indictment of our country,” said Boko, adding that the latter state of affairs depicts a president who is not interested in engaging with other world leaders in shaping public international law. The press has reported that Khama has a “holiday home” in Mosu, a small village in the Central District.
In lamenting Khama’s neglect of his responsibility as the nation’s chief diplomat, Mmolotsi reiterated a point Boko made earlier that vice presidents and foreign affairs ministers standing in for presidents at the UN General Assembly don’t get pride of place on the speaking roster.
“At the UN General Assembly, President Barack Obama and his peers speak first. During that time, Vice President Masisi doesn’t get to speak but President Khama would. Masisi comes last and doesn’t even command attention. For that reason, we need to be represented by the president because presidents command attention. My plea to you, Your Honour the Vice President, is that if you get lucky enough to become president in 2018 and rule for that very short period of time, one of the things you should do is to attend summits yourself. Don’t delegate Molatlhegi to represent you because that would bother us a great deal,” Mmolotsi said.
While he represents Gaborone South, Molatlhegi is actually from Serowe. Mmolotsi may have been having a little fun but he actually broached an important subject. Nobody knows which party will win the 2019 general election but it is a certainty that Masisi will become president on April 1, 2018. In all likelihood, there will be a battle for the presidency of the Botswana Democratic Party at the 2018 national congress that Masisi might not win. However barring a political earthquake that might shake the party, his ascension to the presidency in 2018 is itself not in doubt. The question is, when he does whom will he make vice president?