In what could be viewed as a reconciliatory move, President Ian Khama has reappointed Molepolole North Member of Parliament (MP) Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri to the Cabinet.
Matlhabaphiri is one of the influential members of the Barata-Phati faction of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and is close to the party chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe.
Matlhabaphiri, or Gas, as he is popularly known in BDP circles, has been appointed assistant Minister of Health, replacing Maxwell Motowane who has been deployed to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the same capacity. Motowane has replaced Dorcas Makgato-Malesu who has been promoted to head the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
She takes over from veteran economist Baladzi Gaolathe who has stepped down due to ill health. Gaolathe, who was previously the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, has not been well lately. Last year, former Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) direct Kenneth Matambo was appointed to act after Gaolathe went on sick leave. After the general elections, Gaolathe was moved to the Ministry of Trade and Industry while Matambo held the fort at the finance ministry.
Matlhabaphiri held the same post just before the general elections. But after the elections, President Khama dropped him from the Cabinet following an acrimonious BDP congress, which was held in Kanye last July. Khama did not appoint members of the Barata-Phathi faction to the Cabinet after last year's general election.
During the countdown to the BDP congress, Khama made it clear that he was not willing to work with members of the Barata-Phati faction. The president frustrated the Barata-Phati members who won the BDP central