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Tsogwane leads Guma, Tshekedi in BDP race

Publishing Date : 13 March, 2018


2018 is a bumper year for politics, especially the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with several events expected to shape the path in anticipation of the 2019 general elections. The party is going for primary elections and expecting a new leader in April.

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is expected to take over power from President Lt Gen Ian Khama at the end of March when the latter’s constitutional term of presidency comes to an end hence the ruling BDP central committee has the task of replacing Masisi as chairman of the party. The lobbying has started for this position within the rank and file and at central committee level.

Weekend Post has gathered that the three names are currently dominating conversations within the ruling party’s central committee are those of additional members Slumber Tsogwane, Tshekedi Khama, and Samson Guma Moyo. BDP chairmanship is a ceremonial position but has so much weight attached to it. Vice President Masisi fought hard and smart to retain the position against Nonofo Molefhi at the BDP Tonota elective congress last year July. Over the course of time party loyalists have started to attach power to the position because it has been frequently held by state Vice Presidents in the recent past – they believe this has added weight to the position of chairman of BDP.

In the current scenario, members of the BDP central committee will have the final say on who will take over as chairman when Vice President Masisi becomes president in April. It is expected that it should be a consensus decision or a majority split to decide on the next chairman.

Slumber Tsogwane is said to be commanding a strong lead as the lobbying intensifies. He was strongly behind Masisi in the run up to the Tonota congress. Some in the party point to his loyalty to the party and his position in Parliament as the longest serving Member of Parliament as complementary strengths that validate his pole position to succeed Masisi as chairman.

Slumber Tsogwane has made it clear that he is not running for Parliament in the 2019 general election, some see him as the appropriate candidate for the impending vacancy of chairman because he has little or no interest in the party primary elections which are expected to take centre stage starting January 20th. He is seen as a possible arbiter in case of conflicts arising from buleladitswe, they say.  

Tsogwane’s backers say he is someone who knows his ceiling and he will not develop ‘ideas’ of grabbing more power should he be elevated to the position of chairman. “We do not want someone who will think of challenging Masisi just because they are now chairman,” said a BDP insider. In this long and short race there is another additional member, Samson Guma Moyo, a fervent supporter of Vice President Masisi, whose appetite for lobbying is patent. Guma Moyo’s name always springs up when there is jostling for positions within the ruling party.

At some point (2013) Guma Moyo was elected party chairman in Maun only to resign later citing sabotage and unfriendly accusations relating to the conduct of buleladitswe. His name is in the basket of possibilities again today but some of his party colleagues point back to the events of 2013 when he resigned to validate why he cannot replace Masisi as chairman of the party.

But those pushing Guma Moyo’s name are adamant that circumstances have changed and he must be given the position. Guma Moyo is one of the most vocal and coherent backbenchers in Parliament at the moment, and there are fears that his potential elevation to chairmanship could soften his voice in Parliament especially at oversight committees since he will be the recognized face of the party at structure level.

Guma Moyo is known to have influence in the party because of his resources and methods of operation. But Guma’s main challenge at the central committee is that there are a number of people he has antagonized including Dorcas Makgato whom he did not support in her bid for Women’s Wing chairmanship and Mpho Balopi who is now the secretary general of the BDP. Guma Moyo did not support Balopi at the formative stages of his bid for secretary general position.
Balopi is seen as a very influential figure today who also holds a powerful position and with the ongoing lobbying, he may be key in tilting the scales against Guma Moyo.

Another candidate, Guma Moyo’s sworn in nemesis, Tshekedi Khama wields immense power because of the family name but his independent mind also gives him marks for consideration in this position. It is likely that Tshekedi Khama will just have to await his turn, which not far from now. Party insiders share that the outspoken Khama could challenge for the position of chairman at the next elective congress of the party. Tshekedi Khama has supporters who want him to prepare himself for presidency of the party.

He had wanted to bid for chairmanship of the party last year, indications are that he was talked out of the idea of challenging Vice President Masisi. He is one of the popular characters in the BDP central committee but politics of lineage and potential backlash associated with it could retrain his supporters from acting to their gut feeling. Tshekedi Khama is seen as being in line to become leader of the BDP at some point in future.

Meanwhile most in the party believe that Masisi owns the surge of his political traction to his 2015 campaign team that ensured that he becomes chairman for the first time. His campaign team was then led by former Councillor Ishmael Legwaila who has since been rewarded by being appointed court president in Jwaneng, he is on D1 scale.

The team also included Councillor Ratora, Councillor Monageng, both from Serowe; Amogelang Mojuta, Isaac Maforaga and Victor Malete whose tag named was commander of ground forces. At the time Vincent Seretse was responsible for strategy. The common belief is that those who led the build up to the Tonota victory found well laid foundations hence theirs was just to cement Masisi as the heir to the throne.



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