Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi’s bid to defend the chairmanship faces setback in North West region following his team’s decision to drop former Cabinet Minister Jacob Nkate. A recent visit to the area has revealed to the Masisi team that Nkate has a lot of loyal backers in the region.
Information gathered by this publication indicates that activists in region are not happy with a swift coup which left the former party Secretary General in the wilderness. North West region remains one of the few structures which Nkate has a strong grip on. The Masisi camp is worried that they need the numbers since Nonofo Molefhi has proved to be a strong contender in this race.
Nkate served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Ngami from 1994-2009 and was once an influential member of both President Festus Mogae and President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s cabinet. A factionalist at heart, Nkate rose to the ranks in 2003, after being elected Deputy Secretary General and ascended to the Secretary General position in 2007 following Daniel Kwelagobe’s retirement.
Masisi camp dumped Nkate after he revealed his plans to challenge Masisi for the presidency of the ruling BDP at the party’s special congress expected in early 2019. This annoyed Masisi’s supporters and they had to quickly replace him with Mpho Balopi in the slate. Nkate has since declared that he is an independent BDP candidate for the position of secretary general at the upcoming BDP elective congress expected to be held during the first week of July.
Meanwhile this publication has also been informed that Vice President Masisi has failed to endear Mpho Balopi to the region because the latter is accused of plotting Nkate’s down fall. Balopi, who served as BDP Secretary General from 2011 – 2015 was the man who facilitated a cooperation which saw Nkate giving up his chairmanship ambition to contest the Secretary General position instead, under Masisi camp.
Weekend Post has it on good authority that Balopi had met secretly with Nkate several times before sealing an agreement but the deal fell through when after Nkate announced that he may challenge Masisi for the presidency in 2019 if the need arises. “The idea that I have a deal with Masisi and that he will make me vice president is not true. No deal like that exists,’ he denied and added that, “Upon arriving in a country from Japan, I thought let me hear what the situation is on the ground and my conclusion was that maybe I should support him so that I do not cause too much disruptions in my party. And then we can take it from there. If between now and 2019, me and Masisi do not agree, my rights are on the table. All the options are on the table.”
Balopi reportedly convinced Masisi to drop Nkate following the utterances regarding his presidential ambitions. The news of Nkate’s removal was delivered by Balopi himself, telling the former ambassador to Japan that “he is now on his own.” A source close to the developments revealed that when Masisi was approached by some of North West activist sympathetic to Nkate at the Woman Wing Congress held in Maun three weeks ago, and he distanced himself from the decision to drop Nkate. “Masisi told them that the idea of bringing Nkate to his team was facilitated by Balopi, including the decision to drop him from the team,” he revealed.
Balopi has however told this publication that he has not met the councillors or the North West region itself so far but revealed that he has been talking with individuals that he has always known from his time as party Secretary General. “I do not understand the issue of Nkate being dropped. He is still a member of BDP and has the right to contest for any position he wishes to,” he said.
“It is also the democratic right of BDP members to support whoever they wish to support but we will continue soliciting for support from party structures. Perhaps what you could be asking Nkate is whether he support Masisi, and if Masisi support him.” Nkate has however decided to soldier on and will take Mpho Balopi head on, now as his rival. Nkate also faces frontrunner, Botsalo Ntuane, who is the incumbent and Philp Makgalemele of Nonofho Molefhi camp.
Nkate’s removal from Masisi’s camp has seen him suffering major setback given the factor that he has not been in the party politics for a long time. Nkate has been inactive since losing his parliamentary seat in 2009 until the beginning of this year after returning from Japan. Although Nkate has insisted on contesting the Secretary General position he has been advised to consider resorting to Additional Member position in order for him to have a seat in the central committee. Nkate has remained steadfast in his bid for Secretary General position.
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.