The conspicuous absence of Finance and Development Planning minister Kenneth Matambo’s name in the recently released names of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary aspirants has extinguished speculation that the economist was likely to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, Festus Mogae and the late Baledzi Gaolathe, in joining active politics.
Prior to the completion of the electoral board’s vetting process and subsequent central committee’s endorsement of the party’s parliamentary aspirants, speculation was rife that Matambo was likely to throw his hat into the political fray.
Political pundits within the BDP and opposition are now asking the question whether given President Ian Khama’s unpredictability, he might give Matambo a second bite at the cherry? Is Matambo further likely to get another special election in the next parliament?
Matambo was recalled from retirement to head the finance ministry when the late Gaolathe became indisposed due to ill health.
A former permanent secretary in the ministry of finance and Managing Director of Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Matambo’s name does not feature among the many BDP political aspirants who may sail to the next parliament after the 2014 general election.
A number of conspiracy theories are being peddled in answer to the questions with some political observers holding the view that if Serwalo Tumelo wins the BDP primaries and Mmadinare constituency in the coming general election, Khama may just as well do away with Matambo because a formidable replacement would be available within his circle of elected Members of Parliament.
Tumelo succeeded Matambo as permanent secretary in the finance ministry. He was given the nod to contest the BDP primaries in the Mmadinare constituency where he will do battle against assistant minister in the Office of the President Dr Gloria Somolekae. Other contestants in the Mmadinare constituency are Kefentse Mzwinila, Arnold Moseki and Oduetse Lejowa.
The vacancy in the Mmadinare constituency follows the pending retirement of incumbent and vice-president, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, at the dissolution of parliament next year.
“The writing is clearly on the wall that Matambo is not interested in the dirty political game. He rather prefers to serve the nation at the behest of the President. If he had interest, this would have been the opportune time for him to have thrown his hat into the political ring. There is a possibility that he may have already sealed a behind the scenes deal with Khama to continue serving as finance minister provided it is given that on a silver platter. It does not look like he is desperate. He should be content that he was recalled from retirement to come and serve as minister”, said a political observer adding that in case the BDP does not have a capable candidate to head the finance ministry, Khama may have to offer Matambo a second chance.
Another democrat who is a former Member of Parliament but is this time around not contesting BDP primaries is Victor Motobake. He had a short stint in parliament after Botswana National Front’s Obakeng Moumakwa resigned his Kgalagadi North parliamentary seat before the end of his term.
Motobake later lost the 2009 elections to another BNF candidate, Philip Khwae with a marginal five votes. After his election into the BDP’s central committee as an additional member at the July Maun national congress, some observers within and outside the BDP believed he would use the election as a leverage to contest the current primaries.
Also absent from the BDP primaries list is former Okavango MP Vister Moruti who was beaten by BAM’s Taolo Habano in the past general election as well as Moggie Mbaakanyi who lost to independent Nehemiah Modubule in the 2009 general election. Modubule has since joined Botswana Movement for Democracy – a splinter party of the BDP which is now a member of the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
Attempts to solicit a comment from Matambo drew a blank at the time of going to press while Motobake said he had decided to hang up his political gloves for the time being.