In a bid to dislodge his successor from power, former a group aligned to President Lt Gen Ian Khama is pushing for his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama to challenge President Mokgwetsi Masisi for the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at next year’s special congress.
Though the party tradition dictates that no sitting president has ever been challenged for the presidency, Article 29.1 of the BDP constitution provides that the party Central Committee should convene a Special Congress during an election year, at which the party shall elect its president. Given BDP’s dominance and recent opposition unity challenges, the leader of the BDP is said to be almost certain to be the country’s president after October 2019 general elections.
“A best kept secret is that former President Ian Khama has been looking for candidate to take on Masisi after he felt betrayed by his chosen successor for the Presidency of the party and the country,” said a source. Khama stretched the net out and wide in looking for a candidate to sponsor to challenge Masisi: He has consulted many close to him, according to impeccable sources.
“While some have been indifferent to his intentions and advised him from entangling himself in politics after his term expired, Khama is thought to moving ahead and going for broke in getting a man that he can have as his handler.” Many names have been tossed around, with the most preferred initially to have been Nonofo Molefhi. However, Molefhi was thought to be unreliable, and he himself had second thoughts in challenging a man in Masisi who beat him convincingly in Tonota last year.
Other names that have come up are Neo Moroka, Boyce Sebetlela, Jacob Nkate and Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. Moroka was immediately discounted, as he is perceived to be lacking political currency and national clout. Nkate is still nursing bruises from losing to Thato Kwerepe in the Ngami primary elections while age is unfortunately not on Venson-Moitoi’s side. Venson-Motoi has announced retirement from politics, effective at the end of her current term next year.
“With time running out and 2019 approaching, Khama finds himself only with TK raising his hand. Khama was discouraged to go with TK because they are siblings. It would perpetuate a narrative that Khama is nepotistic.” “But having trounced Moemedi Dijeng unexpectedly, TK thinks he is the man to carry the Khama faction to victory and reclaim the BDP,” said the source.
Central District, as well the Greater North with the majority electoral numbers are thought to be backing former President Khama to come up with a name to challenge Masisi. The North sees Masisi as an unapologetic regionalist, a ‘southerner as he is often referred to’. “Look at his appointments in government since he took over; Chief Justice— a Southerner, DIS Director— a Southerner,” said one source.
Political commentators however think it is advantage Masisi. The mere fact that it has taken time for the Khama faction to name a candidate is reason enough that it will not be easy to dislodge Masisi according to a political analyst who preferred anonymity. “Masisi also has party tradition to his advantage. Never has the BDP removed the head of the party on the eve elections.
The Khama faction though is feeling confident, and point to the fact that wins for candidates sponsored by Khama in Bulelwa Ditswe are an example of the ‘Khama magic’ is still alive and strong. The loser though can only be the BDP, as whoever wins will find it difficult to unite the warring factions to the national polls.”
In an interview with Tshekedi on Thursday, he said there was so much of fake news. “People will always say things because they want to associate me. I was never approached, and I do not think that one person will just wake up one morning and tell us what he wants us to do without consulting us,” said Tshekedi
Asked if approached properly he would agree to the request, Tshekedi said, “We all took an oath, and yes, hopefully you take it because you mean it.” Meanwhile a meeting between BDP elders and Ian Khama was held recently as last week to try reconciling Khama and Masisi. Those in attendance are thought to have been former President Festus Mogae and former cabinet ministers; Patrick Balopi, Ray Molomo and Gaositwe Chiepe.
It is not clear whether Kwelagobe was also part of the meeting. Kwelagobe is thought to have gone back to the Khama faction after attempts by the Masisi camp to recruit him to their faction failed. Kwelagobe feels the Masisi faction is not authentic to him and only wants to use him. Masisi is currently away on an official visit to China and on his return, he is expected to reshuffle cabinet.
The reshuffle is thought it is going to ruffle feathers further. TK is almost certain to be removed from his Tourism ‘fiefdom’ and taken to a lessor important Ministry like Agriculture. Mokaila will replace him at Tourism. The reshuffle may cause trouble because even though many ministers have lost primaries, they will still vote at next year’s party congress as incumbents. “One thing for sure it is going to be a busy couple of months not only for the opposition but the BDP as well. Unity is going to be stretched with all political parties. We await to see the result.”
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.