Unlike those that wish to challenge him for the Presidency come 2018, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has incumbency and the goodwill of his leader to be grateful of. His position gives him a 24-hour access to a Helicopter to reach any corner of this country to do both party and government work. As party chairman he has been extremely busy luring in new members, most of whom are expected to come handy when he stakes him claim for the party and country presidency. So far looking at the destruction job he has launched against the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Masisi could be starting to believe that his presidential ambitions could well come true. At the arrival of every new recruit, his confidence soars. PHILLIMON MMESO is watching the developments closely.
Some have described him as a desperate politician who is seeking affection from the democrats but Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi dismisses that as the fertile imagination of his detractors who think that he is not popular. Masisi has warned those who undermine his popularity do that at their own peril. “I don’t know where people get this notion that I am not a popular BDP chairperson when I won with the biggest margin in the history of the party’s elections for the chairmanship,” said Masisi who got 582 votes against 219 votes for the former Botswana ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Seretse. Nevertheless, there is strong speculation that Masisi will become the first BDP leader to be challenged at the 2018 elective congress as party president. In the past the sitting President was not challenged but some have already shown interest in the position. Among those are Botswana ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate, Tebelelo Seretse and the Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology Nonofho Molefhi and this is said to have unsettled Masisi.
Since assuming the Vice Presidency, Masisi – who is also Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana – has barely turned down any invitation to officiate at party and government occasions, making him one the busiest politicians in the country. His critics and political opponents are not happy that his position has given him an opportunity to use state resources to push his campaign for 2018. He shoots back though. “Heela, I am not afraid of any challenge and the reason I am all over the country is that I am worried about the health of the country and my party; not about any political challenge,” he said. According to sources, most recruits, especially from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), have landed in Masisi’s campaign team. This includes the former BCP youth leader Lotty Manyepetsa and BCP 2014 Nata/Gweta Parliamentary candidate Ditiro Majadibodu. This is said to have unsettled some within the ruling party who feel side-lined. “Currency and relevance are very important. We need to show people our new catch and even themselves they are eager to praise their new political home; so we are not side-lining anyone,” said Masisi.
Recently he came under heavy criticism from the Leader of Opposition Duma Boko who accused him of recruiting some prominent opposition leaders, pleading with them to help restore order in the country, as it is a political mess. “Vice President Masisi calls people and say I am building a country in shambles; I so much need you as part of my team post 2018,” said Boko at the UDC press briefing on Monday. Seething with anger Masisi rebutted the allegations and called on Boko to bring evidence to that effect.
Masisi fires back
“Boko is a pathological liar. Let him bring the evidence that I called some opposition,” hit out Masisi, accusing Boko – who is also the Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North – of being an ill-mannered politician.
Since being nominated and endorsed as the country’s eighth Vice President there has been speculation that he is only holding the fort for the next president who will be nominated before President Ian Khama retires in 2018. “Unless I die or get incapacitated by ill-health come 1st of April 2018 I will be sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana,” said the confident Masisi, adding that his detractors will eat humble pie. The confident VP said even after 2019 he will remain the Head of State as the BDP will win the 2019 General Elections. There have been claims that he is currently making a truce with Molefhi to make him his deputy in 2018 so that he doesn’t challenge him at the elective congress. Masisi was also recently accused of recruiting the 2014 BCP Parliamentary candidate for Selibe Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana to defect and challenge Molefhi in 2019 as way of pushing him out of the presidential race. Asked if it is true he has made an offer to Molefhi not to challenge him ahead of 2019 elections, Masisi played down the allegations. “Those allegations are not true. Look I can appoint anyone as my deputy,” said the Masisi.
On his health
Early this year the nation knelt in prayer as Masisi battled for his life at a South African hospital over unknown illness. He managed to pull through. Asked if his busy schedule won’t strain him, he answered in negative, saying that he is there to serve Batswana. “I have my resting times and though not enough like before but I am not really straining my health,” said Masisi as he chuckled.