Masisi wields his axe abroad

Kabelo Dipholo
MAKING CHANGES: President Masisi(L), NEW APPOINTMENT: Gladys Mokhawa(M), RECALLED: Vixen Kelapile(R)

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is continuing with appointments of envoys to represent the country’s interests in strategic countries abroad.

Mid last year, Masisi wielded his axe, recalling some of the career diplomats and replacing them with his preferred choices

Envoys in key duty stations such as London, Berlin, Nairobi, Windhoek and Maputo were recalled by the President in a major shake-up.

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In a recent shock move, Masisi has replaced Botswana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Collen Vixen Kelapile, with the current Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dr Gladys Mokhawa.

Kelapile, a multilateral career diplomat with 27 years experience in the field is also Ambassador to Cuba and High Commissioner to Jamaica.

He recently served as the 77th President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the first Motswana to hold such a position.

According to information shared with The Voice, Kelapile is likely to be redeployed as High Commissioner to Abuja, Nigeria.

The Voice has seen a letter where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is alerting the United Nations Secretary General that Permanent Secretary Dr Mokhawa will replace the veteran career diplomat.

According to a reliable source, Kelapile was not aware of the letter as he’d yet to receive any communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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“When you’re recalled back home, you receive a letter and date. You sign the letter and leave, but what is happening now is that often redeployments are shrouded in secrecy that it is beginning to raise eyebrows,” said the source.

The source, himself a former diplomat, described Dr Mokhawa as a fresh academic novice who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2020, and quickly rose to the position of PS, replacing another veteran career diplomat Gaeimelwe Goitsemang. GG, as he’s affectionately known, landed a new role as Inspector at the Geneva-based United Nations Joint Inspection Unit.

“Clearly, Dr Mokhawa brings no foreign service experience whatsoever, having been at Foreign Affairs for just two years,” said a concerned former envoy.

He was further concerned that senior officers who are recalled are loitering around with nothing to do.

“This is abuse of taxpayers’ money, and is indicative of the paralysis at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Attempts to reach out to Ambassador Kelapile to find out more about his eminent recall have so far been unsuccessful, as his phone rang unanswered.

Appointment to Ambassadorial position has always been a contentious issue in Botswana, with mainly the opposition block accusing the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of making such appointments to compensate politicians who have lost elections.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lemogang Kwape, has said that a minimum requirement for one to be an Ambassador or High Commissioner is a Degree in Social Sciences, International Relations, Marketing, Law, Political Science and Public Administration.

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