Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has rejected the inclusion of former cabinet minister, David Magang in the Elders Council meant to reconcile him with his predecessor Mokgweetsi Masisi following big fallout between the two.
Elders Council met with Khama for the first time this week to lay the ground for reconciliation efforts. It is at this meeting that Khama, who was not willing to bend told the council that he would not want to engage with a committee which includes Magang, whom he believes is biased against him. Khama is reportedly not impressed by the comments attributed to Magang in one of the local publications, where the Phakalane supremo was taking a swipe at the former President.
Magang was quoted indicating that ‘never in the history of Botswana has a president retired with benefits and pension, and still wants to go back as is the case with Khama.’ The remarks have reportedly infuriated Khama, and he now believes Magang is not the right person to talk about reconciliation. Magang has however expressed ignorance at Khama’s alleged protest over his inclusion in the delegation.
“My relationship with him is okay, as far as I know, but you will never know what your younger brother is thinking about you. If he does not want me, I will visit him at his place. Certainly, he will also visit me at my place one day,” said Magang. The two have never been best of buddies, with a close examination of their relationship indicating two men who are always on the opposite sides.
It is believed that Magang and Khama have never been best allies since Khama was appointed Vice President in 1998. In 1998 following the retirement of President Sir Ketumile Quett Masire, it was widely expected that Festus Mogae, who took over the reigns as President would appoint Magang as his deputy. Mogae however bypassed Magang to nominate the then BDF Commander, Khama. The visibly disenchanted Magang retired from politics two years later to focus on his businesses.
Khama’s detest of the Magangs was not helped by his early relationship with party youth wing upon his entry into politics. Magang’s eldest son, Lesang Magang, and then leader of BDP youth wing publicly criticised the decision by President Mogae to grant Khama a year long sabbatical leave. In 2015, the rocky relationship expressed itself again when President Khama and his cabinet snubbed the launch of Magang’s “Delusions of Grandeur Vol 2” book.
It was revealed that Khama was not impressed by the first book, “Delusions of Grandeur Vol 1” in which he looks down upon the country’s success story. Magang stated in the first edition that Botswana is not and has never been a prosperous country and that its economic acumen is overrated, a statement that has enraged Khama’s government. Few weeks after snubbing Magang’s book launch, Khama however attended, with other former cabinet ministers and past presidents, the launch of the late Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe’s memoir.
THE KHAMA, MASISI RECONCILIATION MEETING
Although Elder Council met Khama for a preliminary meeting this week, where he demanded to know ‘the real agenda of meeting,’ the two former confidantes are yet to meet face-to-face. It is anticipated that once Khama has warmed-up to the idea, the two will be brought together at table to kiss and make up. Magang has revealed to this publication that the meeting is yet to take place due to Masisi’s commitments. Masisi travelled to China during the week.
“We have not met with the two [Khama and Masisi] because, as you know, Masisi is out of the country. But surely we will meet once he arrives. For now, I cannot say when we would meet,” said Magang. This publication is informed that the elders stepped in after the party central committee decided to no longer sponsor the idea of Masisi meeting Khama because the latter is junior to the former.
It is believed that Khama, in response, has also taken a hardline stance. Not only to the party but went further, as he was initially not willing to meet with the party’s elders committee who are also concerned by the fallout between the former confidantes. Article 24.2 of the BDP constitution says the mandate of the Elders Council includes investigations, arbitration and reconciliation of differences and disputes where necessary within the party structure and or members.
For a while Masisi and Khama’s fallout has proven problematic, forcing the old guard to try convincing the duo to smoke peace pipe. Following this fallout, a decision was taken by the party in a meeting between Masisi and BDP fellows including cabinet ministers, legislators and Central Committee members. The meeting was initiated by Masisi to deliver a message of gratitude to his party members for his first 100 days in office.
This week sources shared with this publication that the meeting between Khama, Masisi and the veterans made a breakthrough. The meeting was to be chaired by the party elders among them Patrick Balopi, David Magang, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe and Ponatshego Kedikilwe. There are however a conflicting reasons as to why Khama was reluctant to meet the Elders Council.
“He could not make it to the meeting because he is very busy with some of his initiatives and other duties as a Kgosi. This is not to say he will never meet them but when the time is right or his schedule allows he will definitely make it, he is still a bonafide member of the party,” a source close to the matter told this publication prior to the meeting. While Khama’s ‘commitments’ are the main reason according to a source, other observers argue that Khama, a well-known disciplinarian will did not want to honour the meeting.
He has rejected both Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire in 2011 when they tried to mediate during the historic Industrial strike which dragged for months. This nonetheless is not bothering the party’s old guard as they are expected to persistently summon the two until the matter is closed. The fear is that, should the fallout continue, it may harm the party’s electoral prospects next year. BDP will assemble for the elective congresses next July and the two leaders’ rivalry is likely to play out.
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.