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Tensions rise in Cabinet as Masisi’s COVID-19 Task Team runs country

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
Cabinet in a meeting. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Last week President Mokgweetsi Masisi tried to press a ‘reset’ button on his Cabinet as an endeavour to put Botswana’s Executive into order after some ugly tensions threatened to undo his power grip.

The President was forced to call a hasty Cabinet retreat held under a bizarre theme of “Reset, reclaiming the government and implementing our change mandate”.

But despite this technical solution to a political problem, tensions are still simmering and rising inside Masisi’s Cabinet.

Mmegi has learnt that the biggest bone of contention in the Executive is that the President has shifted the Cabinet’s power to the Presidential COVD-19 Task Team.

Ministers feel powerless as large sums of government funding is diverted without consultation to COVID-19 by the Presidential Task Team and this is stalling all other key projects and shifting government priorities.

“Some Ministers are complaining that the reason why some projects are failing is because funds are diverted to COVID-19 without being consulted and at times they cannot make any decisions as they are forced to consult the Task Team first.

What frustrates mostly is that the Task Team has been given powers to overturn some decisions if they do not agree with (them),” the source said.

This explains the reason behind the Cabinet retreat theme as members of the Executive were being promised to “reclaim the government and implement

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their mandate”.

Mmegi has however learnt that the two Cabinet Ministers who have been threatening to resign are still unhappy.

 Cabinet tensions finally came out in the open last week when Masisi reshuffled his Ministers in anticipation of Dr Thapelo Matsheka’s impeding resignation from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

Dr Matsheka was quickly demoted and sent out to a junior ministry to become Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development. Peggy Serame was elevated to the Ministry of Finance and replaced by Mmusi Kgafela who took over the Investment, Trade and Industry portfolio.

The Cabinet reshuffle was preceded by a major reshuffle of Permanent Secretaries.

Masisi’s reset retreat is said to have not yielded much as there were notable absentees allegedly without any apologies. Dr Matsheka is one of the Ministers who did not attend the retreat.

Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang could not be drawn into explaining the President’s reshuffle. “Cabinet appointments and or reshuffles are preserve and prerogative of His Excellency the President as empowered under the Constitution.

That being so, Cabinet issues are not a matter for idle speculation and conjecture,” he said.



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