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Cabinet, backbench in Chief whip showdown

The concealed tension between ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators, involving cabinet and backbench is expected to play out next year when the party seeks to replace the Chief Whip.

This paper is reliably informed that cabinet ministers have grown weary of the incumbent, Liakat Kablay and want him replaced. Reports indicate that Specially Elected Member of Parliament Mephato Reatile is cabinet’s preferred candidate for the post. .WeekendPost has established that some ruling party members especially from the cabinet believe that the maverick legislator, Kablay, is unfit for the role as he is considered reckless and outrageous in nature, particularly when conducting media interviews and debates.

 Cabinet members are of the view that opposition members easily counter him effortlessly and attack the ruling party through him as he is “an easy spot and target.” Kablay has not shied away from taking a jab at government, causing discomfort for ministers who interpret it as attack on government policies.  

“Reatile’s [Mephato] name has been hinted on numerous occasions to take the post. This is what most of the ministers agree with [Reatile’s name]. But I must make it clear to you that backbenchers believe Kablay is holding the fort well up to now,” said a backbencher. “We are negotiating to change Kablay as parliamentary party spokesperson as advised,” a leading ruling party legislator who is also cabinet minister also said.

He said however that Kablay, a BDP faithful through thick and thin, will not be discarded but the decision will be in the interest of the party. “Like as suggested, we need someone who is eloquent to contend with opposition guys,” he hinted.
The BDP cabinet minister highlighted that “as a messenger of concerned democrats we believe he being overwhelmed by the opposition cadres and they easily manipulate him during debates leading to misinterpretation of party message.”  
 
On the other hand the backbenchers argue that Kablay, an experienced MP should continue with his role as the party’s whip. “He is just original; he represents us well in meetings. On numerous occasions he has pleaded with His Excellency both Masisi and Khama to talk to the ministers not to be secretive to us ordinary MPs,” said the backbencher.

“We have had a number of issues which were not addressed especially with ministers refusing to share information with us. But during his reign as the whip he reported them to leadership and it was corrected. That was necessary because we should know what transpired at cabinet meetings so we would be able to debate well and also be able to represent the party well,” added the MP.

In the latest cabinet reshuffle, many advocated for Kablay to be given a ministerial portfolio. With that having failed, those who rallied behind him say the party should not strip-off him the post. When reached for comment the Letlhakeng-Lephephe lawmaker, Kablay, would not be drawn into discussing the matter but indicated that he is aware some BDP MP’s want to remove him from his party parliamentary function.

He was however quick to point out that he believes he has been executing his role as chief whip and party mouthpiece in parliament diligently and to the best of his ability. “I speak well for this party, and I love this party. Elections are coming next year and whoever wants to challenge me can do so, this is Democratic Party after all,” he said.

Reatile on the other hand who is vying for Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency has said, “By far no one has approached me over the matter, normally the leadership suggest the name. But if at all they could say that to me I will take the responsibility because it will be a vote of confidence on me.”Kablay took the baton of Chief Whip from the late Francistown West MP Tshelang Masisi.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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