As the standoff between President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama takes twists and turns, it has come to the attention of this publication that in December 2016, the then Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi would surprise the last Central Committee meeting on a Monday by stepping down, and endorsing the name of Tshekedi Khama for chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
This was supposed to be a grand slam mastered by the legal brains of one Parks Tafa and it remained a secret that Khama says he would have gone to his cremation plate with had President Masisi not have discussed it at the party caucus last week. “What I am going to tell you now is not known, the reason why I am telling you is that Masisi is trying to shift the blame to me over the current situation,” former President Khama said.
In his search for a new Vice President in 2014 prior to 2015 Mmadinare elective congress President Khama suggested at the party caucus for a poll to endorse a name for a possible Vice President, something that was never done before. Tshekedi Khama led the poll followed Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi and Nonofo Molefhi. Masisi knew about the results of the poll but Khama had his reservations particularly that Tshekedi is his younger brother. Khama also wanted to break a barrier of North versus South and had to appoint Mokgweetsi Masisi against party caucus, a plan that would later backfire completely.
It was Khama’s long trusted man Parks Tafa who objected and later said, “This is a wrong man for the Vice Presidency.” After making his mind General Khama then sent Tafa to tip Masisi of the decision that is hatching. Upon receiving the good news Mokgweetsi Masisi then told Parks Tafa at his residence that he will make way for Tshekedi in position of party chairman as the caucus has entrusted him and later appoint him Vice President when he finally takes over from Ian Khama.
This is how the deal was hatched: 1) Tshekedi Khama approved that Masisi must take over and in return, he would appoint him Vice President. 2) Masisi being appointed Vice President when Ponatshego Kedikilwe retires. 3) Tshekedi Khama to become party chairman. In his own words Khama said: “One of the reasons I choose Masisi is because when he was the Minister in Presidential Affairs, he showed a lot of support for me especially during the 2011 public service strike where the unions were threatening MPs. He was bold and said no increment could be made and I thought he is someone who is very firm,” said Khama.
“Tafa was totally against Masisi’s appointment and he gave me reasons that I would not reveal to you.” When Tafa broke the news to Masisi, he assured him that he is indeed very humbled and was not expecting it. He then asked what about TK because he was up there? “I will make it up to him, I will make TK my Vice President,” Masisi told Tafa. Khama’s response to Tafa was that it is between TK and Masisi because when he becomes President, he has prerogative to nominate his Vice President.
Masisi is the one who broke the news to TK on the undertaking that he made to Parks Tafa. “I knew about it because they told me and was expecting that, that is what is going to happen. I am his older brother, I was disappointed when that didn’t happen but in life and in politics you have a lot of disappointments, that’s when you have to demonstrate maturity,” said Khama.
Khama said there is another Minister who came to him after Masisi became the President telling him that they are very disappointed because he has promised that person that he will appoint him the Vice President. At least two people were promised the post. When Tsogwane was appointed Chairman of the party, Khama called him and congratulated him, he knew automatically that he will eventually become Vice President. Khama later invited Tsogwane over lunch at his official residence.
“I even assured him that I will not be contesting the party chairman against him as people suggested. This thing of going around and telling people I am bitter is not true, all the extra things I asked from him… I was begging looking at the conditions that I will be facing. All these were agreed on in writing,” he said. “Now they are using the powers that they have to retaliate and withdraw my employees which were seconded to my office”.
Khama is of the view that the current feud will negatively impact the prospects of the BDP winning the 2019 general elections. A lot of democrats are unhappy, there is no unity after the recent primary elections and how the appeals were handled. I see a party divided going forward”. Khama said the reconciliation process that Masisi is proposing is likely to be a temporary arrangement. “After 2019 it will be business as usual, where is the goodwill? Is there sincerity that he needs to reconcile?”
Khama said he never had a succession plan because that does not work in a democratic system, people can reject your choice of successor. Contacted for comment Parks Tafa confirmed having struck a deal with Masisi and this would have been a secret he would go with to his cremation tray. He said he considered Masisi lucky because he would never had been Vice President nor President. Tafa still recalls events as they evolved in the build up to Tonota Congress in 2017 where Tshekedi was supposed to assume the party chairman.
He went to see Masisi at his home on Thursday evening and the two went through what was initially agreed and Masisi fine with the whole arrangement. He was going to resign as party chairman at the Central Committee meeting on Monday. Tafa communicated the results of the meeting to both Ian Khama and Tshekedi Khama. All the four agreed to meet on Friday but Masisi excused himself saying he is meeting with the wife in Johannesburg, South Africa.
On Friday morning at 0500hrs Tafa says he woke up to long WhatsApp message from Masisi saying he is not stepping down. They were hugely surprised, and this is when TK started not to trust Masisi and the brew of their long standoff. The terms have been broken completely and now Masisi was now proposing strongly and refusing to stepdown.
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.