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.
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.