The power struggle roiling the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) reached tipping point after party leadership allegedly engaged in a physical confrontation early this week.
BMD is the country’s youngest political formation and its teething problems can be traced back to the promulgation of its extensively liberalised constitution. Senior party leader who is also a retired Botswana Defence Force one-star Brigadier General, Iphemele Kgokgothwane allegedly scuffled and strong-armed Chairman Nehemiah Modubule Tuesday night. Sources allege that the scuffle took place around 22:15 after the adjournment of a top party leadership meeting.
Modubule who is BMD Chairman told this publication that after a late night National Working Committee (NWC) meeting he was roughed up by Kgokgothwane who sought to suck him into an ‘ambush’ of about 10 men. He explained to this publication that as he was making his way out he saw a group of around ten men. He continued to state that among them, he instantly recognised Kgokgothwane. He also states it is then that Kgokgothwane instantaneously grabbed him by the hand and proceeded to twist his arm, trying to draw him into the middle of the group of men.
He further alleged that in the process Kgokgothwane used threatening language apparently stating that Modubule was destroying their party. “He stated that they will kill me because I am destroying their party,” Modubule related. Modubule further wondered how Kgokgothwane and his men ended up at the meeting because they were not part NWC rendezvous. He revealed that the situation was diffused after Ndaba Gaolathe broke off the assault and walked him to his vehicle.
“Because they are not part of the executive you can ask yourself where we they coming from. How did they know we were meeting?” Asked why he thinks Kgokgothwane would want to bring him harm, Modubule feigned ignorance. He also told this publication that he reported the case at Central Police Station where he left at 12 midnight and that he also went to seek medical attention in the company of party Secretary General Gilbert Mangole.
The NWC meeting was to discuss whether the BMD Youth League Congress could be held today. Modubule told WeekendPost that the meeting resolved that it would be impossible to hold the congress because the registration of delegates has not been fully done. He also said that the National Executive Committee is scheduled to meet to deliberate on the matter further. The fracas is directly linked to a searing marathon contest for the control of the party. Currently BMD is wrought by bipolar centers of power. On the one end is Modubule and party Secretary General Gilbert Mangole. On the other is Gaolathe, his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, Phenyo Butale among others.
Kgokgothwane is believed to be allied to the latter faction. The Modubule-Mangole axis is angling to hold tight onto power while the Gaolathe-Mmolotsi team is seeking to oust them. Retired Major General Pius Mokgware and Gaborone Central Member of Parliament Phenyo Butale are allegedly lined up to challenge the duo at the July congress. However, the Modubule-Mangole axis is reported to be far ahead in terms of establishing their loyalist base across the length and breadth of the country.
It is not known whether Advocate Sydney Pilane who the Modubule-Mangole axis is reportedly loyal to will dare for the presidency. When asked for his part Kgokgothwane cynically denied ever fighting Modubule. He stated that he does not sit in the executive of the party or National Working Committee. He further noted that he cannot scuffle with a man the size of Modubule. I don’t know anything about that. I don’t sit in the Central Committee. How can I scuffle Modubule. Have you seen Modubule? His backside and belly? Asked Kgokgothwane. Asked if indeed he threatened to kill Modubule, Kgokgothwane responded: “if I kill you I can’t tell you. I am a professional. I don’t do such things (threat to kill).
He further denied that he was contacted by the police after being reported. The founding commander of BDF Special Forces also denied ever accusing Modubule of ruining BMD, responding thus: “go tell him that he is a liar. Those are his issues.” BMD’s constitution was framed to avoid centralising executive power on the presidential post. It was promulgated in hindsight of the problems that beset its founders when they were suspended from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
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.