Whichever way one looks at it the sands are shifting - political transition from President Ian Khama to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is already underway. From the recent cabinet reshuffle which saw four first-time MPs elevated to cabinet and two others promoted from assistant ministers to full ministers to this week’s election of Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMPs), it looks like Masisi is building his future leadership. Sources within the government enclave have revealed that the nomination of Mephato Reatile and Bogolo Kenewendo as SEMP was done at the recommendation of Masisi who is currently left with 17 months to take over as number one citizen.
Sources also say there is a possible cabinet reshuffle which could come after the debate on the National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) that is to take two weeks. Kenewendo is expected to become assistant minister either at Finance or Trade Ministry. Should the ruling party retain power in 2019, Kenewendo, who would have gained enough political experience, will take over as a full Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Political pundits have indicated that the nomination of Kenewendo as SEMP gives a glimpse idea on what kind of government Masisi wants to build. Reatile, who is known as grassroots person, is expected to help Masisi to cement his political popularity both within and outside the BDP.
Who will be the VP in 2018?
Pelonomi Venson Moitoi
Though she is contesting the position of chairperson of African Union Commission, she has a chance of being considered as Vice President if she does not win the AU job. She will come handy for Masisi, who will need not only an experienced cabinet minister but also someone who commands respect not only in the party but in government. Venson-Moitoi is said to have been one of the frontrunners for the VP position during President Khama’s presidency. She has more than 17 years as a cabinet minister and MP having entered Parliament in 1999 as SEMP. She has held various ministerial positions. It was Venson-Moitoi who came up with a strategy of saving the party’s image after it gave birth to its first political offspring, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
He is one of the favourites to be appointed Vice President in 2018, which Masisi is most likely to do to unify the BDP which is currently torn between the two. Though Molefhi has not come out clearly to state that he will challenge for the position of party chairman in 2017 at the elective congress, there are strong allegations that he will try his luck even for the presidency in 2019. The allegations gained momentum when 2014 Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Selibe-Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana revealed that Masisi tried to recruit him to topple Molefhi. This was said to be Masisi’s grand plan to frustrate Molefhi from challenging him in 2019. Masisi recently said that Molefhi will support him for his race of party chairmanship in 2017 and he will also offer him support. Some see this is an indication that Masisi is ready to extend olive branch to Molefhi by offering the VP position. Molefhi was one of the favourites to become the VP after 2014 General Election but President Khama is said to have opted for compromise by bringing someone from the southern part of the country as the party performed badly in the area. Those who advocate for Molefhi - a member of the BDP central committee - say he will bring stability to government and promote good governance. Just like Moitoi, Molefhi commands respect both within government and the party.