Botswana MPs baulk at president tapping brother as Vice President

30 October 2014 - 16:45 By AFP
CRITIC: Ian Khama
CRITIC: Ian Khama
Image: Sunday Times.

Botswana's freshly elected MPs will be sworn in, as a constitutional row broke out over suspicions that President Ian Khama is trying to create a "dynasty" by naming his brother as Vice President.

Sixty-one parliamentarians were to take up their posts a day late, amid a court challenge over how they select the vice president and other key officials.

Khama, who won a second term in office last week, has demanded that parliamentarians vote on the vice president by a show of hands, rather than by secret ballot.

That has sparked fears from within Khama's own party that he is preparing to name his younger brother Tshekedi Khama as his deputy and will try to stifle dissent.

Speaking anonymously, a group of MPs from Khama's Botswana Democratic Party said they fear he may be attempting to create a "dynasty".

"The founding president was the father to the current president. Now the president wants his younger brother, another Khama, to succeed," said one MP.

"We cannot allow a Khama dynasty in Botswana. This is not a family party."

Tshekedi Khama is MP for the Serowe North West constituency, once held by his brother.

Acting for the government, Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme, has launched an urgent application with the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of secret parliamentary ballots.

The case is expected to be heard on November 6, and until then the vice president spot will remain unfilled.

Dumelang Saleshando, a former leader of the opposition Botswana Congress Party who served in parliament for 10 years, said that the vote by secret ballot has been there since before he joined Parliament in 2004.

Saleshando said Khama was also endorsed as vice president in 1998 by secret ballot.

Last week's election was the first time that BDP -- which has governed uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1966 -- has won an election by less than 50 percent of the votes.

"The Botswana government enjoys a stellar reputation internationally and comes out near the top on rankings of African governance," said Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor of South Africa's Independent Newspapers.

"Yet the election results suggest that the people of Botswana don't all quite share that global enthusiasm for their government."

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