A simmering tension between President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general, Mpho Balopi and Tati West Member of Parliament, Samson Moyo Guma reached tipping point at a party meeting recently with the latter blasting the two and further threatening to “expose their underhand dealings”.
The two (Masisi and Guma) former buddies have had their relationship reach low levels recently after it became apparent that President Masisi and party secretary general, Balopi have become finger and nail. For better years Masisi and Guma have been good friends and political allies. It is said the relationship soured when Masisi overlooked Guma for a cabinet position which many thought could have doused the rivalry. Before then, Guma was a special commander of Masisi’s army, marshaling a contingent that coaxed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane to abandon his retirement plans.
However this week it is said Guma who is now fed up by a smear campaign peddled against him on local media decided to make the matter known to other democrats. “The party should discipline whoever does this because apart from tarnishing me; this is working against the party more so that elections are coming next year. It will depict us as criminals or party of crooks and this is done internally. So this should be nipped on the bud because it is bad,” Guma reportedly said this to party chairman and Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane.
“It is the leadership that is pushing the agenda, I am just collateral in a war involving the two men, President Masisi and his predecessor, Lt Gen Khama but I can also respond accordingly. There are a lot of things I know and I can spill the beans if this campaign continues.” Apart from Masisi, it is said Guma read malice again from Balopi as the duo is likely to face each other for the position of Secretary General. For the record, Balopi and Masisi were not present at the meeting.
Upon hearing this from the livid MP who for a long time has been regarded as the party kingmaker, Tsogwane and other ministers who were uncomfortable with Guma’s outrage cooled him off. “This matter needs to be dealt with at a special setting, precisely a retreat where we would be able to address these kinds of issues,” Tsogwane reportedly told the democrats.
The media has been overflowing with reports that Guma through his company Unified Refineries Botswana (URB) has received loans from CEDA and failing to pay back the money. This has resulted with the latest information revealing that Guma is a troubled man with financial institutions turning the heat on him by suing the company P133 million, with over 26 sly tenders investigated.
This is not the way to go according to the outspoken MP who is said to be also eyeing the party Secretary General position at the upcoming party congress next year. Party Chairman Tsogwane concurs with him. “We should be united and protect each other.” For his part however, Guma could not confirm to this publication as to whether he indeed aired his displeasure to the party. “Im sorry I can’t reveal what we discuss in the party caucus. I am sorry I can’t help,” Guma responded to this publication’s inquiries on Thursday morning.
Party Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay said the party seems to be in trouble and it has been agreed that all the matters will be heard and solved. “We should be united next year and this is the message going to next year and the democrats agreed with that,” he said. Guma remains a king maker in the greater scheme of things — serving as one of Masisi’s trusted men. Since 2015, Guma has been at the forefront of the election machinery that has ensured that Masisi wins and retains the party chairmanship in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
“He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of Guma’s allies. The party which is currently fighting divisions is likely to enter next year with deep splits handsome enough to hand the opposition governance. Before going to the make or break congresses next year, the party will have to appease disgruntled members like Guma at a retreat scheduled sometime early next year.
BDP enters next year’s elections with one thing in mind – to win convincingly. This is the only way that the party could perhaps patch up and ensure the presidency of Masisi goes on smoothly without hiccups to feed his detractors humble pie. In the last elections the party won power with a 47% popular vote and this was the first time this has happened in history since independence. Masisi has a challenge to change that – only if the party is united, BDP insiders say.
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.