President Lt Gen Ian Khama has given up on the hopes of convincing his colleagues to make way for Mokgweetsi Masisi in the July Tonota Congress chairmanship race and will back down from trying to impose his deputy on everyone.
This publication has gathered that Nonofho Molefhi’s team is of the view that a lot is at stake and therefore will not consider Khama’s proposal to have Masisi as the only chairmanship candidate in July. Masisi is the incumbent BDP Chairman, having been elected at the Mmadinare Congress in 2015.
Khama urged delegates at the party National Council last week to consider a compromise and rally behind Masisi in order to preserve unity going forward. Khama was addressing his last National Council as party president as he is set to retire from office at the end of March next year. Molefhi vanguards such as Biggie Butale, Buti Billy and Ignatious Moswaane have spoken strongly against a compromise.
There was an expectation that following his remarks at the National Council, Khama would summon both Masisi and Molefhi in order to seal a deal between the two, but nothing has materialised since then. “He has never initiated a compromise besides appealing for it at National Council. He wants it because it is his wish to leave the party intact,” said a highly placed source at the party. “I am in support of a compromise. But still we have two months to go, anything can happen.”
Khama has also learnt the hard way that not only are democrats willing to remove Masisi as the chairman in July, there is a high likelihood that his heir will be challenged for party presidency in 2019 ahead of crucial elections. Khama appointed Masisi his deputy following the 2014 general elections, a decision which was deemed unpopular within the BDP. Khama understands that Masisi’s loss will not only bring ignominy to his right hand man but will also weaken his administration and create two centres of power.
One of the worrying factors for Khama would be that Masisi has fragmented support in the central district— BDP‘s strong hold and where Khama himself commands influence. It is reported that Khama has taken a decision to canvass support for Masisi in the region. Khama has made it clear that he is supporting Masisi for the chairmanship. “How can I be neutral when my vice president is contesting?” he asked rhetorically at the National Council gathering. The pro-Molefhi team in central include among others Philipp Makgalemele, Dorcus Makgato, Prince Maele and Tshekedi Khama.
Former chairmanship candidate, and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has also declared her support for Masisi in the chairmanship race. Venson-Moitoi has stated that she is supporting Masisi for the “sake of continuity and preserving party unity”. Venson-Moitoi has also revealed that her support for Masisi is also a gesture of returning back the favour. Masisi campaigned for Venson-Moitoi in her failed African Union (AU) chairperson bid.
Venson-Moitoi has joined Khama in neutralising Molefhi’s support in the Central District. Venson-Moitoi will counter Tebelo Seretse, who is rooting for Molefhi. Seretse is a long-time political nemesis of Venson-Moitoi. With the latter retiring at the end of current tenure in 2019, Seretse is preparing to make a comeback to parliament.
Notwithstanding that, Masisi romped to victory in 2015 at Mmadinare Congress, Masisi has not consolidated enough support during his tenure as chairman of the party. He has not enjoyed the support of Women Wing chairperson, Dorcas Makgato and also failed to get along with fellow member of Central Committee Botsalo Ntuane, who is the party secretary general.
After dropping former cabinet minister, Jacob Nkate from his team there were suggestions from the Masisi camp that he enlist Ntuane in his team but instead chose Mpho Balopi, the immediate former BDP secretary general. Many were of the view that Masisi could benefit from aligning with Ntuane given the latter’s influence in the party as incumbent secretary general. Ntuane defeated Gus Matlhabaphiri’s in 2015 for the secretary general position. Matlhabaphiri was backed by the Masisi team in the race.
Reports indicate that Molefhi has found it difficult to forgo his ambitions because there is a likelihood of him losing his parliamentary seat against opposition in 2019 following the BCL closure which has left over 5000 people without jobs. Selebi Phikwe is an opposition infested area with the other side of the town being opposition control. Molefhi won Selebi Phikwe East constituency with a slight margin and also benefited from vote splitting of opposition parties. In 2019 opposition parties will contest as a unity.
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.