The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee’s intentions to have party congresses postponed have been met with resistance by party structures and party veterans who believe the move is against the party constitution and its democratic credentials.
According to informants, last week, party secretary general, Mpho Balopi proposed to Ghanzi region that the National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC), Women Wing as well as the National Congress, all scheduled for next year, should not be held as expected. Balopi’s reason to have the congresses postponed is premised on the fact that the party is going through a transition period, following the ascendance of Masisi to the party presidency in April this year.
To add salt to an injury, Masisi’s ascendancy have been marred by fallout with his predecessor, with some believing that he is ill-treating his former boss, while others believe that Lt Gen Ian Khama wants to undermine Masisi’s presidency. Another reason reportedly advanced by Balopi at the Ghanzi region is that, the party is still dealing with preparations for primary elections, something which he believes is delicate and that handling more congresses will prove to be more problematic subsequently affecting the party prospects in next year general elections.
BDP is scheduled to go through the last batch of primary elections on the 11th of August 2017 in the 38 BDP held constituencies. However, some democrats believe that Balopi’s proposal is self-serving in that he wants to protect his position, which has already attracted strong challengers.
According to information gathered by this publication, President Masisi is likely to be endorsed by the party unopposed at the party’s Special Congress next year. The BDP constitution stipulates that during an election year, the party shall convene a special congress specifically for electing the party’s presidential candidate.
The BDP tradition shows that no sitting president has been challenged since independence. Masisi’s number two, Slumber Tsogwane also enjoys the good will so far. Tsogwane is the current party Chairman, having assumed the position when Masisi became party president. However, Balopi has not been that very lucky, at least few individuals known to this publication, including his former ally, Moyo Guma are reportedly lining themselves up for the position.
Guma is among the five central committee additional members who were elected at last held party congress in Tonota. Party veteran and long time secretary general, Daniel Kwelagobe has disagreed with what has been proposed by the central committee, indicating that it is not provided for in the constitution of the BDP.
“I am a constitutionalist and I believe in what is in the constitution. The only thing we can do that is in the interest of the party, will be implementing the provisions of the constitution,” said Kwelagobe, who spent 27 years as BDP secretary general. “BDP does not have in its constitution a provision that talks about transition. We must do what is in the constitution.” Kwelagobe, has over the years proved to be pro-party traditions, and has never supported efforts to undermine them.
In 2009, in the initial years of Khama’s presidency, this debate cropped up again, with many believing that there was a need to either postpone the party congress scheduled for Kanye or adopt compromise list to avoid contestation. This idea, during the factional divide of A-Team and Barataphathi was rejected by the democrats. Khama, who sympathised with A-Team had spoken in favour of a compromise where he argued other party members to let an all-women contestants to go unchallenged.
Khama lost out, as Barataphathi got support for a democratic congress, in which the latter won all the contested central committee positions except one. In 1999, BDP following the ascendance of Festus Mogae to the party presidency, the party adopted a compromise, with Kwelagobe/Kedikilwe faction members, who were in control of central committee positions retaining them unchallenged.
BDP deputy secretary general, Shaw Kgathi declined to comment on the matter, referring this publication to secretary general, whom he said is the party chief spokesperson. Balopi was unable to take his calls, with reports indicating that he was outside the country at the time of going to press. Meanwhile Chairman of Publicity and International Relation Sub-Committee, Thapelo Pabalinga indicated that he is not aware of such development, indicating that it could have been discussed in a forum where he was not in attendance.
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.