Former cabinet Minister and Phakalane property mogul David Magang has joined the few substantial voices expressing discontentment with the state of affairs in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which by extension has spiralled into the national government affairs of the country.
Since leaving office in April last year, non-conformist ex-president Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama has been involved in a bitter war with incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi after his advances were turned down including a request for a government aircraft to fly him around the country. The impasse between the duo has divided the nation and the impact of their warfare is hitting hard on the ruling party, with loyalists finding themselves having to defend either of the two leaders.
Some observers have even went on to an extent of pointing to the possibility of the ruling BDP splitting for the second time since the breakaway of the now Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under Khama’s watch. Khama is continuing the war and has backed a Masisi declared challenger for President Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who has since been dropped from cabinet.
Following Moitoi’s self-professed candidature, a BDP Elder Magang wondered “a ekare o ja le motho mo tafoleng lo le mmogo mo ga gagwe le mosadi wa gagwe a go hile dijo abe o ema hela o tloge o re jaanong ntlo ke a ya ga gago le mosadi ke wa gago?” (loosely translated: how could someone try to bite the hand that, at that particular time feeds them because as a minister she is at the mercy of the president as far as appointment to cabinet is concerned?), Magang asked rhetorically while speaking in parables with this publication.
Magang, a barrister by profession and one of only three in Botswana who was very reluctant to speak on the current state of democracy in the country due to his selection by incumbent president Masisi to sit in Council of Elders and mediate a rift between him (Masisi) and ex-president Khama, however could not hold his horse: “politically, things are not going right in the country.” He told Weekend Post that they have not completed their work as Elders Committee in as far as mediation of the two statesmen is concerned.
“We have not managed to meet both Masisi and Khama in our mediation efforts as it seems the two are very busy in their respective schedules,” he said. According to Magang, who has been a member of the ruling BDP in good standing in which he served as a Member of Parliament for Kweneng East/Lentsweletau Constituency from 1979 to 2002, “currently and politically in the country, things are moving very fast in the both the party and country.”
He added that there is already a party faction calling themselves the New Jerusalem in addition to declared candidature of Pelonomi Venson Moitoi for the presidency of the BDP which he said sounds absurd. In his judgement, the University of London graduate who was the first Motswana native to open a private law practice in the country stated that the development makes their task arduous. “It makes things worse, it makes our duty not smooth as we might be linked to the factions or people may not interpret us in a way as not objective in terms of how they see us.”
The party elder went on to question whether they need to continue with the task or revert to the incumbent president Masisi to reassess the mandate or if need be call it off altogether, depending on how the president will view it. Masisi first made a public record of his differences with former President Khama in his State of the Nation Address on November 5th.
Concluding his address on SONA, Masisi admitted to Khama animosity: “Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected…however, it ought to be noted, I have in my attempt to smoothen the process engaged senior citizens namely; the third president Dr. Festus Mogae, ex Vice President Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, two former speakers of national assembly Ray Molomo as well as Patrick Balopi to assist and lead in smoothening the transition.”
Masisi pointed out then that, “I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit up to this point.” Magang, the Phakalane suburban proprietor, was at one point hinted for a Vice President position at the height of BDP factions and however was bypassed by president Mogae who went on to nominate the then Botswana Defence Force (BDF) military Commander in the form of Khama.
Feeling disillusioned by the move, the author of three books; “the Magic of Perseverance” followed by two volumes of “Delusions of Grandeur” could not hang on as he call it quits by retiring from active politics two years later (2001) to focus on his Phakalane property businesses.
Magang held a number of high-ranking ministry portfolios under Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Mogae, including serving as Minister of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs (1994–97) and Minister of Works, Transport & Communications (1992–94, 1998-2001). Magang was also Governor of the African Development Bank from 1989 to 1992.
He was also invited by the current President of Botswana to be part of the Council of Elders established by the President himself for consultations by the Office of the President and the Government of Botswana. Cabinet minister Dr Unity Dow and ex-president Mogae have also made their voices heard in local publications while at the same time endorsing Masisi for president against Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
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.