President Mokgweetsi Masisi has allegedly suspended plans to reshuffle cabinet as he does not want to rock the boat in the middle of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Highly placed sources at Government Enclave have intimated that Masisi has managed to resist pressure from some within his circle to drop some ineffective cabinet ministers. The other reason used to support calls to drop some ministers is that they are aligned to the ruling Botswana Democratric Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi.
The cold war between Masisi and his former political ally and confidante (Balopi) is said to have intensified pressure for a cabinet reshuffle but the first citizen has backtracked citing strategic grounds.
Press Secretary to the President Batlhalefi Leagang has indicated in a response that the appointment of cabinet ministers is the prerogative of the President as prescribed by the law. “It would be improper to give official comment that lends itself to undue speculation on the subject matter,” he said.
The reshuffle was expected to result with some ministries being split or combined. “We know people were going to focus on the new ministries thus overshadowing those who would have been dropped from cabinet,” intimated a source.
Last year while addressing a kgotla meeting in Mahalapye, Masisi indicated that government is in the process of establishing two additional ministries. He said that the proposed development would see the splitting of ministries of Investment, Trade and Industry and Transport and Communications.
Asked about this, Leagajang said Masisi and government is seized with the national response to Covid-19 pandemic. “The country is still in a State of Emergency and has just emerged from the extreme social distancing measures that included the lockdown and suspension of various developmental and national initiatives. All activities consistent with the normalcy of governance will resume as soon as the country has fully contained the pandemic,” he answered.
University of Botswana (UB) Political Commentator Leonard Sesa said that President Masisi will be constrained by Covid-19 pandemic to reshuffle cabinet. “It will be risky to reshuffle cabinet right now looking at that some ministries are in the forefront of the pandemic and it will be risky, let us say, to drop the current minister of health and bring someone new,” he observed.
Sesa said at this time, President Masisi has seen the characters and capabilities of all the cabinet ministers he appointed and was is not for the covid 19 pandemic it will the right time to reshuffle cabinet. “Some of the cabinet ministers have failed to come on board and those who were appointed Specially Elected Members of Parliament have failed to convince the nation why they were brought in and subsequently appointed members of the Executive. Perhaps, it would have been the right time to review the appointments,” he said.
The splitting of the ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry would have allegedly seen Member of Parliament for Molepolole South Oabile Regoeng jumping from the back bench to front as minister for small businesses. The former Director of Communications and Marketing for the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Regoeng is regarded as the right man to kick-start the ministry. Peggy Serame was expected to retain the ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.
The Ministry of Transport was expected to be given to Special Elected Member of Parliament Philda Kereng who is currently Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. “She is totally misplaced and lost at her current ministry and we expected her to be moved to the new ministry,” revealed a source.
Thulaganyo Segokgo, one of the country’s IT gurus, was expected to be take over as Minister of Communications where he was expected to accelerate government’s vision of transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy by harnessing the benefits of the fourth Industrial Revolution.
Though not in good books with Masisi, MP for Gaborone North Mpho Balopi was highly recommended to take over as the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism due to his strong character. “You need Balopi’s tenacity to lead such a highly sensitivity ministry who has ability to defend the country’s position to international community with confidence,” intimated a source.
There has been concern of massive corruption at Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation Services especially in high capital tenders which is said to have made Masisi uncomfortable as it tarnishes his presidency. One of the names touted to take over the ministry is Member of Parliament for Gabane/Mmankgodi Kagiso Thomas Mmusi.
The incumbent minister Kefentse Mzwinila was expected to take over as political head of Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development.