Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntunae is thinking of persuading the two party chairmanship contestants to consider brokering a deal that will see them not contesting against each other in a bid to preserve unity ahead of 2019 general elections.
With rivalry between supporters of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Cabinet Minister Nonofo Molefhi growing by the day, Ntuane fears that if the party does not intervene and a compromise is reached, the Congress aftermath could hurt the party badly. “One of the resolutions that came out of the 2016 special congress in Mogoditshane is that the party should strive to promise consensus/ compromise in every contest within the party for the purpose of promoting unity,” Ntuane told WeekendPost.
“I am saying let us put the party first. I have been in this game for too long, I have seen it all; I know the damage that lobby groups can bring to the party. Already there are groups forming around the two chairmanship contestants.” Ntuane said not only will the party be divided in the run up to Tonota Congress; its aftermath will also spill into primary elections and general elections where party members will fight and de-campaign each other to the benefit of the opposition.
Ntuane is proposing that maybe Molefhi should consider giving up his chairmanship ambitions and allow Masisi to contest the position of chairman unchallenged. In return, he will make way for Molefhi to contest the position of party secretary general and will support him. “I am ready to sacrifice my current position for the sake of the party. We need to do this because divisions might worsen and we are faced with more challenges than ever,” he said.
‘All I am saying let us begin to have a conversation on consensus because it is something that will benefit the party and strengthen it.” The former Barataphathi stalwart has implored his colleagues to lend an ear to his proposal because he has seen the factional battle since his formative years in the party during the era of the late former Vice President Peter Mmusi and Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe of the Big Two and Big Five factions. And he was at the thick of the things when the party split after Kanye Congress.
“When I say let us consider compromise I know what I am talking about. I have seen political careers being destroyed, party losing constituencies it was not suppose to lose all in the name of factions,” he said. “When we went for Mmadinare Congress in 2015, I took deliberate decision not to contest under any lobby list. I contested as an individual and won. I did that because I know factions will never help the party in the long run. The only thing that factions bring at the end is tears even for the so-called winners.”
Ntuane received the highest number of votes a single person has ever recorded in recent years in BDP Central Committee elections. He beat Barataphathi erstwhile strategist Gus Matlhabaphiri with 724 votes while the latter got paltry 180 votes. Ntuane opined that what even makes it imperative for BDP to consider a compromise is the fact that the party is managing a transition something which he said should be handled with care. Secondly, Ntuane is of the view that a united opposition presents a serious threat to BDP’s stay in power.
‘We should not just dismiss them. The fact that they are experiencing instability does not mean that they do not stand a chance against us. We should be strong and united to beat them. If we are divided, we will go to the general elections weaker,” he said. The former BDP Executive Secretary has dismissed suggestion that he is offering his post to Molefhi because he does not have enough support on the ground.
‘Look I just want peace; I have done enough fighting in my career. Remember I am the incumbent, and I was voted with the highest number in the last congress. If I choose to go ahead and contest, again shunning lobby lists I will win,” he said confidently. Ntuane is only second to Daniel Kwelagobe in the current BDP central committee when it comes to experience. Ntuane became a member of Central Committee at the age of 24 in 1995 following the Mogoditshane Congress. He served in the Central Committee while he was still a student at University of Botswana.
In 1996 he was given a post at Tsholetsa as Political Officer, and the following year, he was appointed the party’s Executive Secretary, the position he held until 2004 when he was appointed Specially Elected Member of Parliament. “I have seen many political careers beginning and ending. I have been witness to transitions and in my generation; I know BDP more intimately than anyone so much so that I am actively thinking of writing a book on my experiences,’ he contended.
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.