*Nasha says endorsement is symbolic of Botswana's culture of democracy
Out of 57 Members of Parliament (MPs) who were eligible to vote, 38 voted yes, 12 abstained, while six were absent.
President Ian Khama had started the process by nominating Kedikilwe at Cabinet and BDP caucuses in the morning and concluded it by swearing Kedikilwe into office in Parliament in the afternoon.
The swearing in was in accordance with Section 39 (1) of the Constitution of Botswana.Only elected MPs are eligible to vote. However, as the Speaker of National Assembly Dr Margaret Nasha explained, so was the President because in terms of Standing Orders, he is an ex-officio MP. The same applies to the MP nominated for the position.
According to the Constitution, the process of appointing a Vice President is effected by the President from among elected MPs and the National Assembly is required to endorse the nomination by secret ballot.
Affectionately known as PHK, Ponatshego Honorious Kedikilwe replaces Mompati Merafhe who retired on Tuesday.
In the meantime, Kedikilwe will keep his ministerial portfolio until further notice. Says a statement from government spokesman, Dr Jeff Ramsay:
"This will allow him to continue to play a key role in efforts to promote greater beneficiation along with growth in the local mineral and energy sectors, including Botswana's emergence as a global diamond trading and processing hub."
Vice President Kedikilwe has been the elected MP for Mmadinare since 1984. He previously served as Minister of Finance and Development Planning, of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and of Education.
In 2007, Kedikilwe received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law from the University of Botswana (UB).
Speaker Nasha described the endorsement of PHK as historic and uniquely symbolic of Botswana's entrenched culture of democracy and peaceful transfer of political and executive portfolios.
"Who said Africa can't do it?" she queried light-heartedly in Parliament yesterday.
"Think about this: This endorsement coincides with the transfer of the executive commands of the Botswana Defence Force and the Botswana Police Service.
"I don't want these events to go unnoticed as they are a feature of our democracy that we should cherish."
Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando told Mmegi in an interview that opposition MPs would not endorse PHK because they did not know the reasons behind his nomination.
"We were not given reasons why Kedikilwe was nominated and therefore it would be unfair on us to be expected to endorse him. Why should we
He said previous experience has shown that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) places its interests before those of the country in the nomination for vice-presidents.
"If you remember, President [Festus] Mogae put Khama as VP, and later we found out that he (Khama) was just brought in to stabilise the party, and to combat defections in the party," he said.
Moreover, Saleshando said, Khama must be consistent regarding the issue of the Vice President having a portfolio as a Cabinet minister. When Khama became Vice President, he was absolved from having a ministerial portfolio, as he was tasked with overlooking government's project implementation. However, Saleshando said this is no longer applicable as Johnie Swartz, who is Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, is in charge of this. Former VP Merafhe also did not have a ministerial position.
There is a general feeling that Kedikilwe should keep his position as minister because he has transformed the ministry and performed well. Saleshando disagrees, saying there should be consistency in the roles of the Vice-President. He said Khama should explain what the roles and duties of the Vice President are, besides assisting the President.
However, he said Kedikilwe is a good candidate for the position.
"He is a gentleman of integrity, he brings a wealth of experience - both political and administrative. I don't see any reasons why he should not do well," he said.
For his part, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Secretary General, Wynter Mmolotsi, who did not vote because he was locked out, said he supports the endorsement of Kedikilwe as the VP, "That's a good choice, the man is up to the task and he can even be the best President. Things will be different and they will stop to happen the way they used to."
Further he said Kedikilwe is a man of integrity and that he is the best man for the job and that if the position were handed to a different person it would have been a very sad day for him.
Regarding Cabinet reshuffle, Mmolotsi said 95 percent of the Cabinet is not performing and that it must go. However, he said this is not easy for Khama to let them go.
"Therefore, he has no choice, but to stay with the quality that he has," he said.