The decision by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee to postpone primary elections has divided the party, with the anti-Masisi faction expected to go for jugular and call for secretary general, Mpho Balopi to resign.
Yesterday (Friday) BDP held an in-house meeting in Palapye to discuss the rescheduling of the much awaited 38 constituencies elections. The postponement came five days before the scheduled date, with the party politburo citing hacking of the electoral system as the mainstay reason. Those who spoke to this publication say it has been a tiring and expensive route that bled their finances in campaigns, indicating that the postponement means more problems for the already financially challenged candidates.
“Already a lot of money has been spent in the build-up to the elections which were scheduled for this weekend (today) and now we should source out more and try to keep the ball rolling. This will bleed our already shoe-tight budget,” said one candidate who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cost, according to the candidates comes from paying the campaign teams that have been mobilising the electorates and other costs. Another contention from the party members is the fact that the party elections are likely to be scheduled around September/ October.
This, they say, is likely to compromise the registration of the national elections which are scheduled for the same months. “You know our party’s stronghold is mostly on far flung constituencies and you know how these people behave. They will not even register for the national elections because they will think after voting for the primaries they are done with the general elections process,” said another party parliamentary candidate. This it is said is likely to impact on the party 47 per cent popular vote garnered in the last elections in 2014 as most of the party members, will be confused.
ANTI-MASISI SENTIMENT DIVIDING THE PARTY
The ruling party is also under pressure from the emerging faction which is aimed at disrupting Masisi’s presidency next year. Reports indicate that, scores of democrats want the party secretary general, Mpho Balopi who is aligned to Masisi to resign his position. He is blamed for messing up the secretariat and for making costly decisions to the detriment of party unity ahead of 2014 general elections. Balopi, a close ally of Masisi is viewed as possible favourable candidate to succeed Masisi at the end of his term.
According to information gathered by this publication, President Masisi’s future is not guaranteed as there is a possibility of a challenger emerging from the opposing camp. The BDP constitution stipulates that during an election year, the party shall convene a special congress specifically for electing the party’s presidential candidate.â€¨â€¨The BDP tradition shows that no sitting president has been challenged since independence. However, Masisi has not been that very lucky, with his fallout with former president, Ian Khama making matters worse.
Weekend Post understands that the pro-Khama want to dilute Masisi’s power by pushing for candidates who are pro-Khama in party primaries as well as next year congress. The party will meet for at least three congresses next year; the Youth Wing congress, Women’s Wing congress and well as the National Congress. Samson Guma Moyo is reportedly lining himself up for the secretary general position. Guma is among the five central committee additional members who were elected at last held party congress in Tonota.
The narrative of postponing party congress has gained credible opponents within the party. 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.â€¨â€¨“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,” Kwelagobe, former secretary general told Weekend Post a fortnight ago. “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.
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.