Mmegi Online :: Masisi had promised me VP - Venson-Moitoi
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Wednesday 20 March 2019, 15:58 pm.
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Masisi had promised me VP - Venson-Moitoi

Before he took over the presidency, the then vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi asked the longest serving cabinet Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi what she would like to do before she quit active politics and she said she would love to be his Vice President. Then Masisi appointed Slumber Tsogwane and Venson-Moitoi was little disappointed, reports Mmegi Staffer OARABILE MOSIKARE
By Oarabile Mosikare Fri 01 Feb 2019, 18:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Masisi had promised me VP - Venson-Moitoi








SEROWE: The veteran politician, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi does not beat about the bush when she expresses her disappointment.

“Of course I was disappointed because I had been promised; it is normal. I had been asked by the President, the current President. He had asked me what I would like to do before I leave. This was before he took over and I said ‘the one thing I would love to do is to be his Vice President’’.”

Masisi then promised her they would talk about the issue later. Distress is what then followed the Serowe South legislator. After Masisi took over from predecessor Ian Khama, he appointed another longest serving Member of Parliament Slumber Tsogwane as his number two.

Tsogwane and Venson-Moitoi joined Parliament the same day in 1999 after the general elections. “Of course when he appointed somebody else I was a little disappointed, but not to a point where I was going to commit suicide,” Venson-Moitoi recalls in an interview at Mogorosi ward in Serowe after he addressed a kgotla meeting.

Venson-Moitoi, in her 60s, is a straight talker. She does not beat about the bush to express her feelings, but explains that she accepts Masisi’s choice. She reasons that the President has the prerogative to appoint whom he wishes. “So in all considerations, maybe he had his reasons and the President has the final decision on who he chooses, so I accepted that. I am a mature person. I accepted the choice of the President, and yes I was prepared to work with the choice that he made. So I didn’t have the hangover about what he did and it was done and over with.”

Masisi, like he did before by enquiring about her availability, was a gentleman enough to come back to her and informed that Tsogwane got the nod.

The Serowe South legislator claims that she did not ask questions why she lost the promise in favour of Tsogwane. She explains the candidness: “It is not for me to ask questions. I don’t work like that. It could have been wrong for me to confront him”. Likewise, she was not surprised when Masisi fired her from Cabinet in December 2018 as the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.

This was after she had dropped a bombshell and broken ranks with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) tradition by stating that she will be challenging Masisi for the presidency of the party come July elective congress. That was a first in the history of the party. She explains that it was also his presidential prerogative to drop her from Cabinet. She says in a democracy such as Botswana’s she is not going to judge the President. “That was his decision… People compete for positions in the party. I have not defiled any clause of the constitution of the party.”

Masisi was sworn in as the fifth President of the Republic on April 1, 2018 and a few months later Venson-Moitoi entertained the thought of challenging him for the presidency. “About a few months before the letter that I

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wrote to the party about two or three months or so, I was thinking about it,” she says.

A series of events she refused to disclose prompted her decision to try her luck at the presidency. “I think it was a series of events, some I may share and some I am not quite readily share, but a summation of them is that I decided that the time has come.

“The BDP maybe has to exercise the clause in the constitution where the party, at the time of the election of the President, should have a choice to elect the President because up to now what we have done, we have been handed down a president by the president on the seat. We have used the automatic succession principle and we are a democracy renowned on the continent for doing things in a mature manner and we have a reputation for being open. And also the current President has actually spoken very openly about being open to competition. So the idea had been playing at the back of my mind and I thought ‘Why not?’ this is a golden opportunity because if we are ever going to retain our place on the continent as a mature democracy this will be a golden opportunity as any, therefore why not?”

Since she disclosed her ambitions for the ultimate job, she has suffered a barrage of scorn from some quarters. She has been accused of being Khama’s lackey, sidekick and proxy. Mma V as she is affectionally called by a legion of her supporters, has unkind words for her critics. She explains that this cannot be true and she is not going to convince anyone against a story she did not create. She says she worked in Khama’s Cabinet and was always accused of being stubborn and rude to him because she was the only person who dared to say no to him.

“Batho bale teng ba rapame, ba boroletse ba tshaba gomo raya bare ‘No sir!’ Jaanong, tsatsi jeno I am suddenly the one person who is going to be pushed around by Khama? You tell me!” Khama is on record expressing his support to a fellow Serowe native and Venson-Moitoi is content with that. She reasons that Khama is also a BDP member and she needs his vote.

“His fight with Masisi is his fight with Masisi. It’s got nothing to do with me. People have to learn to deal with the truth. People have to learn to separate facts,” she says before adding that, “I am my own person. I can make up my own mind. Haele gore Batswana ba tseela gore ga kena tlhaloganyo, ke dirisiwa jaaka mpopi, then this country is in trouble. I know there are people out there who know the truth, people who are serious enough to see this for what it is”.

She says if Khama wants to support her, he has the vote that she needs and he will probably bring her two or three votes, which she needs.

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