During his golden days, Daniel Kwelagobe used to be the man making political careers inside the BDP. His influence was so strong that he, through the network of supporters in the party structures, would literally decide who made it to the party Central Committee every two years. Today, the throne is held by the Tati East legislator Samsom Guma Moyo. Since 2009, every candidate he backed for party elections has won — WRITES ALFRED MASOKOLA.
Last weekend at the Tonota Congress, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his lieutenants effortlessly walked in to the BDP’s highest governing structure, thanks to the mobilisation skills of none other than the Tati East legislator, Guma.
For almost a decade now, Guma’s political life has always been defined by twists and intrigues. He happens to be part of the famous group of dissidents who went on to found the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) at the height of factional infightings in the BDP. Guma was the victim of President Ian Khama’s purging following the infamous 2009 BDP Kanye Congress.
“He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of his former allies. In the build-up to the Kanye Congress, Guma found himself fighting President Ian Khama. He belonged to the then Barataphathi faction which was rooting for Daniel Kwelagobe and Gomolemo Motswaledi as Chairman and Secretary General respectively. Meanwhile, President Khama had gone all the way to persuade democrats to elect only women in the central committee. It was Guma and his team who strolled to victory, winning all the position but one. Guma was elected additional member.
Before that, his relationship with Khama was complicated by the latter’s decision to drop him from cabinet as Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning following allegations of corruption, a decision that Khama would later publicly admit he regrets.
Following the 5 year banishment of Motswaledi from the BDP, Guma met with fellow Barataphathi factionalist to decide to form a break away party. BMD quickly became the fastest growing political party, but soon, Guma got disgruntled. BMD did not offer what he had wanted. Like many, he retraced his steps to BDP and was welcome in to the party in 2012 at the party’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
A year later, Guma, in an expected outcome, won the BDP chairmanship against party veteran, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi Maun Congress in 2013. Many expected Vensoi-Moitoi to win, largely because Guma’s association with BMD would hurt his chances. Against all the odds, Guma proved his mantle, as his team which included fellow business associates Mpho Balopi and Thapelo Olopeng.
Guma’s chairmanship reign however was short-lived as he was forced to resign a few months into the position following the controversial 2013 party primary elections. It was reported that Guma and his team had tried to circumvent the succession plan by influencing the outcome of the primary elections. To date, the details of what happened between Khama and Guma, which led to the latter’s resignation remain a closely guarded secret.
In 2015, Guma reportedly cajoled Mokgweetsi Masisi to run for the chairmanship at Mmadinare Congress. Since his arrival in the party, Masisi had no interest in participating in central committee elections. Although he was Presidential Affairs and Public Administration minister, he was then considered a light weight and had no influence on party structures. This perception changed when Masisi was appointed Vice President, and suddenly inherited influence.
With Guma on his side, Masisi decided to take a shot at the party chairmanship. The position has been generally associated with the Vice Presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi. Masisi won, though with an unconvincing margin.
This year, ahead of the Tonota Congress, Guma and his team ran a well-oiled campaign; from financial resources to deploying troops on the ground to harness support in party structures. Even for Nonofho Molefhi who enjoyed an amazing level of good will from democrats at the party National Council in April, there was a shift by the time congress drew nearer, with Masisi clearly headed for a landslide victory.
To retain the chairmanship Masisi garnered 769 votes compared to Molefhi’s 261 votes, and all his lieutenants ceremoniously walked into the central committee. Mpho Balopi defeated incumbent Botsalo Ntuane for the secretary general position; Satar Dada extended his 22 year stay in the BDP central committee, defeating Tebelelo Seretse for the Treasurer position, while Jagdish Shah and Shaw Kgathi also defended their positions.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.