The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) under the tutelage of new party president Mokgweetsi Masisi will next weekend assemble for the first time since the retirement of his successor Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama in a move to assess the state of the party a month before the highly anticipated primary elections.
The party which is in transition and still adjusting to Masisi’s leadership style will gather for their special congress in Gaborone on the 8-9th of this month. Insiders reveal that the meeting will be mostly focused on sharing with the party membership some major decisions taken by the party since Khama addressed them at the 56th national council held in March this year. The special congress which is described as a housekeeping assembly to deal with internal issues will be used to strengthen the party’s unity ahead of next year 2019 general elections.
Following incidences of indiscipline, in which party councilors and parliamentarians defied decisions made by the party caucus, the congress will deliberate on the matter with the view of making resolution on dealing with party members who defy both parliamentary and council caucuses. The National Council had adopted and proposal to have members of the party who defy the party parliamentary and council caucuses disciplined.
For a long time party members have snubbed these kinds of gatherings leading to contradictory voices at the all-party assemblies like national assembly and council. BDP wants member to always debate issues both at council and parliament in line with decision taken by the party caucus. “We will be interrogating ourselves as a party especially looking at the resolutions taken at National Council and the Elective Congress in Tonota. We won’t reveal more of our campaign strategies but it will be a high level discussion. There are number of decisions taken and we will reveal them there,” party secretary general Mpho Balopi said in an interview.
The delegates will converge to Gaborone without motions because the regions did not hold regional congresses. The party is expected to table fresh motions, line with the current developments and have the motions debated by the congress. The party took a resolution to have Special Congresses during the party’s elective congress in Mmadinare early 2015. It was decided that BDP meet for special congress, every year that party does have an Elective Congress.
The special congresses, according to the party constitution, are meant to formulate and revise party policies and programmes. The Special Congress also help to define, orientate and approve general policies and plans for the nation’s development. Other key policy points that the party seek to debate is a request by Ministry of Education to reduce from 6 months to 90 days the length of time given to a student to return to school after giving birth, and also to have Government speeding up the review of all employment programmes.
Vetting guidelines for prospective candidates in the up-coming primary elections and registration deadlines will also be dealt with. The party under Masisi has vowed to white wash the opposition in the coming elections. Although it is “still early to divulge the campaign strategies for the elections” according to insiders the party remain optimistic. In the last general elections, the BDP won the elections with a shaky popular vote of about 47 percent, which was unprecedented for the party that has dominated the elections since independence in 1966 with a steady over 50 percent popular vote.
“As you know the elections are coming next year we should start preparing to look for a job from the electorates and we will play hard and very seriously. Myself and all in my team want this job very badly,” party president Masisi told reporters this week about the BDP’s intentions to remain in power. Party veterans have also asked Masisi to ensure that the party fields candidates that will be appealing to voters. They pointed out that this task should start at primaries or bulela ditswe. This, they argue, will make it easier for the party to remain in power next year.
Under the stewardship of Masisi who just like his predecessor, Khama, says he does not tolerate corruption, the party will also deliberate on corruption or maladministration at government level. “BDP support the rule of law in such cases to take its course. We condemn malicious and unfounded accusations levelled against anyone for the purpose of discrediting them,” article 10 of some of the resolution states. Pundits say under the Khama regime corruption sky-rocketed to new heights with the P250 million National Petroleum Fund scandal topping the charts.
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.