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Khama powers Cabinet more

Publishing Date : 10 October, 2016

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Members of the executive have increased by four after President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama promoted a couple of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators from the backbench – a move that some say literally seals cabinet’s power over the other arms of government.

Following the elevation of the four backbenchers namely Ngami Member of Parliament, Thato Kwerepe; Boteti East Legislator, Itumeleng Moipisi; Tati West Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale; and Mmadinare law maker, Kefentse Mzwinila to cabinet, the third arm of government’s grip on power is expected to bolden further.

Kwerepe has been appointed assistant minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration which headed by former permanent secretary to the president, Eric Molale; while Butale is Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry which is led by Vincent Seretse. The decision to promote Butale automatically sends his litany of proposed motions to the gutter. Butale was intending to challenge establishment with some of his motions, calling for introduction of mother tongue language in schools, among other controversial subjects. 

Itumeleng Moipisi is the new assistant minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. He will be under the supervision of Prince Maele. The newly renamed Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development respectively has a new assistant Minister in Kefentse Mzwinila, the most educated Member of Parliament who boosts several degrees, some at masters level.

Observers believe that the level of quality of debates is likely to decrease since the ruling party back bench has been weakened. In particular maverick law makers such as Biggie Butale will be silenced because of the collective responsibility approach of the executive. The pointed debates from the Tati West legislator will be a thing of yesterday as he will be expected to toe the line.

The controversial ‘opposition motions’ such as the introduction of indigenous languages to the curriculum and establishment of community radio and television stations will not see the light of day, at least in 2016 as their most energetic champion, Biggie Butale has been silenced by a cabinet appointment.

Butale appropriated the motions which in previous years were raised by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and noticed them in parliament for re-debate. But it is likely that the motions will be picked up by another Member of Parliament most likely from the opposition benches. 

Butale told this publication two weeks ago, with gusto, that he was confident his motions would be debated in parliament when it reconvenes in October. But now President Khama has rewarded him with a cabinet position.

He further argued that it does not mean that if the ruling party rejected similar motions in the past, it will continue to do the same at other times. “Times change, it doesn’t mean that they will continue to reject them,” said Butale a fortnight ago.

Butale, who is also a pastor, further said that he continues to resurrect them because he feels they can be of assistance to the most vulnerable of society. He expressed optimism that the motions will pass because BDP parliamentary caucus had already given them its blessings.

Butale also stated that the motions are not in any way pro-opposition but in actual fact will serve to demonstrate that BDP is answerable to the needs of the larger populace.

The initial motion to introduce other indigenous languages in the education curriculum has previously been rejected in the ruling party quarters as “divisive and impractical” and further described as “some new form of Bantu style education”

It was introduced by former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) politician and Selibe Phikwe Member of Parliament (MP) Gilson Saleshando.

His motion calling for the establishment of community radio and television station has also in the past been trashed by ruling party MP’s reasoning that the same have fueled ethnic divisions in Rwanda.

Previously when the motions were tabled by opposition parties’, current cabinet big wigs such as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Defence Minister Shaw Kgathi dismissed them with a passion.

A single motion by Thato Kwerepe calling for the introduction of a law for people with disabilities will also fall by the wayside.

BDP MPs who spoke to this publication reason that the reason they supported the addition of two extra Specially Elected Members of Parliament was in recognition of the latest development where President Khama recruited four backbenchers. “The back bench was going to be bankrupt, we just hope that the President’s two nominees for SEMPs will add value to the debates in Parliament,” said one of the BDP MPs. He pointed out that opposition did not have foresight to realis that the impending reshuffle had the potential to cripple Parliament because Cabinet will be too strong and weigh on the backbench and combined opposition.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Shoshong Member of Parliament, Dikgang Makgalemele has been redeployed from Office of the President to the Ministry of Health and Wellness as Assistant Minister. Observers are of the view that he is not happy with this move but he will take it anyway. He is an ambitious politician and he would have loved a promotion instead.

Kitso Mokaila has been given the Ministry of Transport and Communications following reports that he did not want the Minsitry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. It is evident that his latest portfolio was a compromise.

Dr Unity Dow has been named the minister of the newly created Ministry of Basic Education. She will be assisted by Master Goya. Others are of the view that she would have wanted to be at Tertiary level.

Nkage Member of Parliament Edwin Batshu will take care of the newly created Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs ministry.

Dr Alfred Madigela has been promoted to senior minister at Tertiary Education,Research,Science & Technology and he is assisted by Fidelis Molao. Sadique Kebonanghas also been promoted to head the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. He was assistant minister at Trade under Vincent Seretse.

FULL LIST OF MINISTERS

Mr Eric Molale is the minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration assisted by Mr Thato Kwerepe.

Mr Shaw Kgathi remains Minister of Defence, Justice and Security.

Mr Patrick Ralotsia is Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security assisted by Mr Kgotla Autlwetse.

Mr Nonofho Molefhi is Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development.

Dr Unity Dow is Minister of Basic Education, assisted by Mr Moiseraele Goya.

Mr Tshekedi Khama is Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism.

Mr Kenneth Matambo is Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is Minister of International Affairs and Co-operation.

Ms Dorcas Makgato is Minister of Health and Wellness assisted by Mr Dikgang Makgalemele

Mr Tshenolo Mabeo is Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development.

Mr Prince Maele is Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services assisted by Mr Itumeleng Moipisi.

Mr Slumber Tsogwane remains Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and still assisted by Ms Botlogile Tshireletso and Mr Frans Van Der Westhuizen.

Advocate Sadique Kebonang is Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

Mr Vincent Seretse remains Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, assisted by Mr Biggie Butale.

Mr Kitso Mokaila is Minister of Transport and Communications.

Mr Thapelo Olopeng is Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development assisted by Mr Kefentse Mzwinila.

Dr Alfred Madigele is Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, assisted by Mr Fidelis Molao.

Mr Edwin Batshu is Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.

The Cabinet appointments take effect from October 1.

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