The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) date for the Special Congress billed for Kang is fast approaching. This is no ordinary congress, for the first time the ruling party’s Electoral College will be subjected to a unique task of voting for the president of the party.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi is certainly defending his position, and so far Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has declared interest in the position and is contesting pending nomination at congress. But the situation is so tense to the extent that there are now assassination claims; and some have fled the country and are reported to be seeking asylum in neighbouring countries.
Venson-Moitoi’s chief campaigner Samson Guma Moyo has fled the country amid claims that he has been tipped of a plot to assassinate him by security agents. The opposing camp has dismissed Moyo’s utterances as a stunt meant to win sympathy because he is well aware that “Kang is going to be very hot” and he will be defeated.
With the final branch congresses expected this week, at this stage the two camps are now crunching the numbers to see where they stand in this historical vote. As the final touches to the campaigns are being galvanized, the BDP enthusiasts are waiting for the 5th April 2019 to go and fulfil the one agenda item – Vote the President of the BDP. Political careers are at stake in this contest and the camp that loses this contest may be forced to humble itself before the other for the sake of unity in the party. Or the winning camp may be forced to be “the bigger man” and soberly celebrate the victory.
President Masisi’s camp has won almost all 14 regions and has made sure of “endorsements” which guarantee nomination for the position of President at the Special Congress. The chairman and the Secretary of every region is a delegate, that is to say every regional structure has two votes. Therefore the 14 regions will contribute 28 votes at the Special Congress should it proceed to voting.
Each constituency will bring 10 delegates to Kang. This is how the delegates are selected. First there is a congress at cell level to elect 10 members who will attend a ward congress, at this ward congress 10 delegates are voted so that they attend the branch congress. There will be 10 delegates from each ward who will vote 8 delegates who will attend the Special Congress that will elect the BDP president. On top of the eight delegates, the chairman and the secretary of the branch are automatically delegates by virtue of their positions which makes it 10 delegates.
This is where the real battle is because this means that each constituency through the branch brings 10 delegates. Because there are 57 constituencies, this makes it 570 delegates from around the country. This is the segment of the BDP Electoral College that is expected to have a heavy load of the party work horses and the Trojans.
They will prove very key in this battle for the control of the ruling party. The BDP has about 352 Councillors country wide with 192 belonging to the Central District Council (CDC). All Councillors do vote at the Special Congress by virtue of their position. Councillors are seen as a critical part of both campaign teams because of their influence in the communities they serve. They also have the power to influence delegates.
President Masisi organized a dinner for CDC Councillors this week where he told them they should choose whether they want to go back to the days of “Rra Gaone, Rra Nametso, or the days of the immediate former President.” He also made it clear that the BDP constitution states that he will continue as party leader even if he loses the Kang vote. But President Masisi appears confident of victory and is rest assured. On the other hand Venson-Moitoi has stated that she works better than she talks, and has vowed to overcome all odds and win.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
The BDP currently has 44 Members of Parliament. They are all eligible to vote. They have in the past complained about the date of the Special Congress and the venue. They pointed out that the date clashes with scheduled Parliamentary business hence they wanted the vote to be postponed. BDP legislators had also complained about the venue, Kang because of the distance and lack of accommodation.
But they have been ignored and the vote goes on. Already 12 Members of Parliament have threatened to quit the BDP, an indication that they are not on President Masisi’s side. The President is most definitely aware of this because he even mentions it in his campaign sojourns at regional congresses. But MPs are also a critical voting group. Their influence to delegates from constituencies cannot be undermined.
WOMEN’S AND YOUTH WINGS
Both these structures have pledged to vote President Dr Masisi. They have 8 votes each at the Special Congress. With the Youth Wing, its Vice Chairman has been suspended from the party and he is one of the staunch supporters of Venson-Moitoi. This means only 7 members of the Youth Wing will vote in Kang.
The Central Committee is the governing structure of the party and it headed by the President. It has 18 votes at the Special Congress. Most of the votes belong to President Dr Masisi in this structure. This is the structure that will affect the number of votes at MPs level because there a few Legislators who also double as members of the central committee such as Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Minister Tshekedi Khama, Minister Dorcas Makgato, Minister Botlogile Tshireletso, and Member of Parliament Guma Moyo, who is said to be on the run. This obviously lowers the number of votes expected because they cannot vote twice or three times in the case of Minister Makgato who is also chairperson of the Women’s Wing.
THE 1000 DELEGATES
The BDP Special Congress, a one day event, with one agenda item is expecting approximately 1000 delegates to vote its President. Whoever is elected President at this congress will be the party’s 2019 Presidential candidate. He will carry the aspirations of the reported 600 000 registered BDP members.
There are fears that the Kang vote could split the BDP into two because the many incidents during the campaign trail have signaled a point of no return in the battle. But the adage, there are no permanent enemies in politics may come in handy. However those close to the events say there is too much at stake both in terms of commerce and power hence one camp has to be annihilated altogether.
President Masisi is the third beneficiary of automatic succession constitutional dispensation – he took over when Khama left office last year April. Dr Masisi has made it clear that the transition was not smooth. But still his succession was not be a breeze in the park. First he has to ward-off the challenge from Nonofho Molefhi who was vying for the chairmanship and now he battling to remain in the party presidency ahead of 2019 elections. Neither Festus Mogae nor Khama were challenged for the throne when they ascended.
Masisi is not only battling Venson-Moitoi, he is also in the trenches against the then Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander and popular chief of Bangwato, Ian Khama. His arrival in the BDP was expected to galvanise and restore BDP’s popularity. The famous “Khama Magic” was the aura and charisma which Khama used in appealing to the masses and rallying votes for the BDP banner. But since taking over from Khama, President Masisi has reversed the script, bringing his own style, and this has irked some of his party colleagues.
â€¨The watershed moment for opposition parties was 2010, the in which BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD); in that particularly year, Human Rights lawyer Duma Boko assumed the leadership of BNF while Dumelang Saleshando succeeded his father as leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). However, with opposition evidently gaining popularity at the expense of the ruling party, the BDP has remained antagonistic to prospects of introducing countering reforms.
Masisi has vowed to reverse all these with a series of sweeping changes that antagonize the practices of the then Khama administration. He has introduced new pay structures for the armed forces as the latest of his interventions and he hopes to woo votes for October. It remains to be seen if Kang will give Masisi a chance to be BDP’s poster “boy” come October 2019 or the party will choose a woman President for the first time in history. This will squarely be on the shoulders of an Electoral College made of 1000 men and women of the BDP. In Setswana, the Kang date will signify that moment at a funeral, “Tiro e boela baruting”. The facebook politicking and campaigns swings will come to a halt.
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.