28 August 2017

Botswana: Your Next VP - Tsogwane or Batshu?

With seven months left before he becomes the country's fifth president, Mokgweetsi Masisi's inner circle is said to be busy drafting his executive.

At the top of the agenda is the post of the country' second citizen, and sources close to Masisi have indicated that he is preferring the route used by his predecessor of having a stopover VP before appointing the ultimate one.

Initially three names were bandied for the stop-over Vice President position but these have since been reduced to two as one of the candidates Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has since declared that she would be contesting the 2019 general elections.

In finding a suitable VP, Masisi's advisors are said to have been looking for a respectful mature person who is not tainted by factional wars within the party and commanding respect among both the young and the old. The race is said to be between the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu and that of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane. Both men have indicated that they will be stepping down in 2019.

Edwin Batshu

He is one of the most respected cabinet ministers even across the political divide with trade unions viewing him as honest and straight forward person. The former Police Commissioner joined active politics in 2008 after he retired as judge of the customary court of appeal. He is the third Motswana to head the Botswana Police since independence, the first being Simon Hirschfield followed by Norman Moleboge.

When he ascended to the police top position he transformed it into an approachable community service that looked and perceived the community as clients who had to be served and respected. He is the one who introduced the special constable cadres and police air wing.

The soft spoken Maitengwe-born politician won the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections against the then incumbent Ambrose Masalila in the Nkange constituency. Those who support for Batshu for Vice Presidency are said to be impressed by his ability to engage other people and rise above petty issues.

"He is widely respected within the party and if appointed VP he will bring the much needed stability within the party ahead of the 2019," said one of Masisi's allies who is supporting Batshu.

Batshu has been Minister of Labour and Home Affairs since 2009 until when it was renamed. He had a short stint as acting Minister of Defence, Justice and Security when the then minister Ramadeluka Seretse resigned in order to deal with the corruption case he was facing. Those supporting him feel that he will do well as VP than party chairman as he does not have a lot of experience within the BDP operations.

Slumber Tsogwane

Now in his fourth term as legislator and regarded as the father of the House, Tsogwane is a quiet and unassuming but easily accessible politician.

Those who feel that he is the most suitable person to be the Vice President maintain that he is an elderly party leader whose political wisdom can be useful to Masisi in guiding him through. Vice President Masisi has recently hailed Tsogwane as a true advocate of councillors' welfare when addressing councillors at the Central District Council. This was after Tsogwane informed the councillors that government has decided to give them P1, 200 housing allowance.

The two share some similarities as they are both former teachers. This year, Tsogwane surprised many when he contested for the Central Committee elections as additional member under Masisi's Team and won. Those close to the Masisi team indicated that the election of Tsogwane into the BDP Central Committee was to position him for the bigger office.

"He now stands a good chance to become the next VP and party chairman next year," said the source. After the appointment of Bogolo Kenewendo as Specially Elected MP, Tsogwane introduced her to the electorates in Boteti West, a clear indication that he was endorsing her to replace him.

Tsogwane - former Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning under Festus Presidency - is one of the oldest MPs in Parliament. He assumed his current ministerial role after the 2014 general elections.

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