President Ian Khama has curtailed the powers of the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale, by re-assigning some of his duties to his assistant, sources have revealed. According to sources, the President has removed some duties from Molale’s primary portfolio and allocated them to Assistant Minister Thato Kwerepe. In a move that is likely to excite members of the Public service, especially Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) who have complained that Molale is too arrogant and uncooperative, the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has been moved to the junior minister. Another institution that has been relocated from Molale’s office is state media, which politicians across the political divide have been complaining about, saying that he is using it to advance his political career. The National Strategy Office (NSO), the backbone of the Office of the President, has also been moved from the former Permanent Secretary to the President to Kwerepe’s office. Molale has been left with the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Poverty Eradication programme, sources say. This could either mean that Khama is not happy about his performance or he is giving him more time to drive his pet project – The Poverty Eradication programme. When asked about developments around the issue at government enclave, Permanent Secretary to the President, who is also Secretary to Cabinet Carter Morupisi, laughed it off. “O di tsaya kae tseo (where do you get those allegations). His Excellency has the powers to assign some portfolios to assistant ministers but the minister is the overseer of the ministry,” said Morupisi, feigning ignorance about the shift in roles between Molale and his assistant.
The rise of Molale
He is one of the public service blue-eyed boys having risen from Assistant District Officer (Development) in Tsabong in 1981 to become Permanent Secretary to President (PSP) Festus Mogae and later President Ian Khama. His acceleration to the top started in 1994 when he was appointed private secretary to the then Vice President Festus Mogae rising to be his senior private secretary when Mogae assumed Presidency in 1998. Molale saw his career shoot up when he assumed the PSP position after Mogae removed Molosiwa Selepeng from the position, deploying him as Botswana’s Ambassador to Australia in 2003. When Khama assumed office in 2008, he retained Molale as PSP. In 2011 he created enemies with public service workers during the industrial action that saw many of them losing their jobs. In November 2014 President Khama shocked many, especially public service workers, when he nominated him as Specially Elected MP and subsequently appointing him to his current position. He retained control of the public service. The Mabule-born technocrat turned politician was now riding the powerful upwelling support from President Khama and this did not sit well with veteran Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) stalwarts. A political opportunity rose after the 2014 general elections when the then MP for Goodhope/Mabule James Mathokgwane tendered his resignation and Molale threw in his hat to contest the by-elections. After he won the BDP primaries he resigned from Parliament and cabinet but to the surprise of many, President Khama retained him as cabinet minister. This fuelled speculation that he was earmarking him for the bigger office. He lost to Barolong paramount chief Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) by 6152 votes to 4372. He was re-appointed SEMP later in the year - 2015. Molale’s pugnacious will to take on those he deems going against his wishes is likely to be his downfall, as one cabinet minister said. Recently BOFEPUSU Labour Secretary Johnson Motshwarakgole described Molale as arrogant politician who has refused to meet them on several occasions though he is in charge of the public service. “The Minister of Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Tshenolo Mabeo was just assigned the labour portfolio and we have had several meetings with him but Molale who is not even elected by the people is arrogant,” hit out Motshwarakgole.