Botswana’s minister for local government and rural development has been relieved of her post after she declared intentions to challenge the current president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, in the 2019 elections.
“Yesterday I informed, in writing to the BDP [Botswana Democratic Party] and His Excellency the President, that I intend to contest the position of President of BDP at the next elective congress,” said Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
“I believe that in true democratic fashion my campaign will be one that debates issues constructively. Always putting the party first and the lives of all Batswana at the very core of our debates,” she was quoted by Africa Times.
Her comments did not go down well with Masisi who, on Wednesday, announced that she had been removed from her post.
Venson-Moitoi hitherto served as foreign minister under former president Ian Khama and was a candidate for African Union Commission chair in 2017.
Her current position will now be handled by Frans Solomon Van Der Westhuizen, who was then the assistant minister in the local government and rural development office, the government announced.
Botswana, which was currently ranked as one of the world’s most peaceful countries (29th most peaceful out of 163), has developed a name as one of Africa’s leading destination that offers an enabling environment for investment and business.
It once more entered into the good books of many this November following its decision to offer tourists visas on arrival – a move that will attract more tourists and investment and subsequent development.
Its former president, Seretse Ian Khama also gained global acclaim for upholding the tenets of democracy after stepping down gracefully at the end of his 10-year term in April.
However, the removal of the minister and other recent political developments have shown that all is not rosy in the diamond-rich southern African country.
Masisi, who was handpicked by Khama to serve as his deputy and later, president, has been at loggerheads with his predecessor over many issues, including Khama’s retirement entitlements and pension.
Khama is reported to have been angry after Masisi’s refusal to let him use government planes and an instruction to the state media not to feature the former president.
It is also reported that the two leaders had fallen out over the sack of the former intelligence chief, Isaac Kgosi, who was sacked by Masisi for insubordination. Khama had attempted to employ Kgosi as his private secretary but was blocked by Masisi.
For now, Masisi has all the powers until after the general election in 2019 when he could lose them to a newly formed coalition of four main opposition parties planning to remove, for the first time since independence, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from office.