Despite last October’s victory by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the party still has more obstacles to overcome and deep wounds to heal as it heads to its elective congress this year, which was consensually postponed last year by the members.
Prior to the elective congress which its dates have not yet been confirmed, the party is likely to see the incumbent Secretary General (SG), Mpho Balopi contesting against Shaw Kgathi who is currently the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) of the party and Kagelelo Banks Kentse who is Head of Communications.
However news reaching this publication shows that His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi has broken rank with his ally, Balopi. It is said, Masisi has been watching how things pan out and finally came to a resolution that Banks replaces Mpho Balopi. Sources say that, Masisi is also hesitant of having Kgathi for the same position and the person he is deeply rooting for the position is Kentse. Kgathi is taken as old guards that should be replaced by new faces. Kentse joined the BDP from Botswana Movement for Democracy in 2018 after Masisi assumed the Presidency.
The Members of the Central Committee (CC) are also alleged to be against Balopi remaining in the same position. A close source to this publication has articulated that Masisi believes that the reason why the party is in “shambles” is because of Balopi, who he says has deeply divided the party over the years. Moreover, Balopi is reported to be still working with former President Ian Khama, which does not sit well with President Masisi. Reports from sources say that Balopi justifies his relation by saying that he and Khama have known each other from time immemorial and he is what he is because of Khama. Balopi first became the party SG at a time when Khama was leading the party.
In an interview with this publication, Kentse denied claims that he is also eyeing the SG seat and that he has the President’s support. “I have not considered standing in any position for the elective congress nor has there been any discussions on the position between me and the President.” He further slammed the alleged fall-out between him and Balopi emphasizing that theirs is a healthy political relationship.
When asked about the alleged reconciliation between he and Balopi meeting because of Masisi, Kentse said, “from time to time the President would call members of the party, yes we have met with the President but only to discuss the status of the party and not what is being alleged.” When reached for comment Balopi said that it was too early to announce whether or not as an incumbent he would like to retain his position as Secretary General of the party. “All will be announced in due course, there are certain procedures and principles that need to be followed within the party, nevertheless, whether or not I am interested.’’
Balopi -who won the Gaborone North constituency by 9566 votes, was rewarded with a Ministerial position heading Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development- is alleged to be displeased by this appointment. Being one of the most senior amongst the elected MPs within the party structures, had his hopes high. Impeccable informants this week revealed that Balopi believes he should have been given a more senior ministry which corresponds with his position within the party. In fact, it is said, he was eyeing Kabo Morwaeng’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.
As it is, Balopi is the third most senior member of a party, coming after Masisi and Tsogwane. However Kagiso Mmusi, who is Masisi’s ally has been given Ministry of Defence Justice and Security which is the second senior after that of Morwaeng, Balopi has read malice from that. Building up to the elections at a time when the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane was de-campaigned by Khama, there were pessimism within the party that Tsogwane will retain the Boteti West Constituency.
By then the party’s top brass had a contingency plan and Balopi’s name was mentioned on numerous occasions to Masisi in case Tsogwane lost. This left him licking lips for possibility of bigger and better things in government, until Masisi revealed his cabinet, says a source. The BDP SG is alleged to now be working overtime to de-campaign Morwaeng in Molepolole South constituency for the 2024 General elections. He is alleged to be against the appointment of Morwaeng at the ministry and feels betrayed by Masisi.
A reliable source to this publication has also revealed that Balopi has placed Jeffrey Sibisibi, who is a former Council Chairman of Kweneng District to challenge Morwaeng in the 2023 party primary elections and has since dispensed resources within the constituency to hit the ground running. News reaching this publication is that initially Balopi had not been a part of Masisi’s cabinet plans and was only added a day before swearing in when other party advisors cautioned President Masisi that it might cause conflicts within the party.
NORTHERN FACTION TAKES SHAPE
In other related reports, there is another alleged faction that is building up behind the scenes. The team is dominated by the northern based party members and those who are feel betrayed after ‘sacrificing’ for the party, including those who campaigned for the party in the past elections. Most of them are angry members who were not rewarded despite their hard work (names withheld). The main agenda of the faction is to frustrate Masisi and ensure his preferred candidates do not succeed at the expected congress.
The alleged faction was seen at Dibete this past weekend where informants say they were plotting on how to execute their move. At this time, the team is yet to take shape but it is busy working to ensure that they will be ready when the time comes. Dates for the party elective congress are expected to be revealed by the party central committee which is expected to meet early February.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.