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Nkate guns for Ntuane

Two of the most prominent members of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s old factions; A-Team and Barataphathi, Jacob Nkate and Botsalo Ntuane, are set for a battle that is likely to rekindle the factional wars that the duo once engaged in at the height of the BDP polarisation.


WeekendPost can authoritatively reveal that the former A-Team faction leader, Nkate, wrote to the party secretariat this week indicating his interest to contest the position of secretary general at the upcoming July congress, a position which Ntuane wishes to retain.  
The party chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has coaxed the former BDP secretary general to not contest with him for the party chairmanship, but instead tackle the incumbent secretary general for the position. In a shrewd political move, Masisi has managed to ward off one contestant and further consolidate his power ahead of the congress. Masisi will automatically become president when Khama leaves office at the end of March next year.


Masisi/Nkate teaming up also vindicates the down played indications that the chairman has never favoured the presence of Ntuane in the BDP central committee. Masisi is said to be one of the key opponents of Ntuane’s electoral and political reforms. Nkate who spent a majority of his youthful years in BDP ranks, including serving in the youth league, is known for his robust and outspoken character.  During his time as MP, he found himself leading a factional battle on the side of President Lt Gen Ian Khama.


After losing his seat to the opposition, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), in the 2009 general elections, he was appointed BEDIA (now Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC), Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Subsequent to his controversial departure from the CEO post in 2012, Khama blessed him with an ambassadorial post.


When he announced that he would be running for the party chairmanship earlier last month, after returning from his ambassadorial role in Japan, Nkate had also stated that he was willing to take the secretary general’s seat if circumstances do not allow him to go after his first preference.


Nkate and Ntuane both had the privilege of serving the party’s central committee during their youthful years. Ntuane was elected an additional member of BDP’s Central Committee in 1995 after the Mogoditshane Congress. At 24 years, he became the youngest BDP member to be elected into the central committee.


Meanwhile Nkate became a member of the BDP Central Committee by virtue of his position as youth league leader between 1996 and 98. Nkate rose through the echelons of power in the BDP during the resurgence of A-Team; also known as Nkate-Merafhe faction in 2003 when he deposed Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi of Barataphathi from the position of the deputy secretary general, becoming Daniel Kwelagobe’s understudy until 2007.   


In 2005 at the Serowe Congress, Kwelagobe’s protégée Ntuane decided to take Nkate head on, in another factional fight bout. With the backing of Khama, who was then party chairman, Nkate retained his seat. Two years later, when Kwelagobe willingly gave up the secretary general position after serving for 27 uninterrupted years Nkate moved on to contest the position where he faced Gomolemo Motswaledi of the rival Barataphathi faction. Nkate emerged from the battle as a winner though with a margin of 49.


Nkate and Ntuane were key players in the events leading to the 2009 Kanye Congress and eventually to the splitting of the party in 2010. Though the duo was not necessarily contesting for any central committee position, they became arch- rivals when they threw their weight behind their respective factions. Barataphathi, determined to reclaim control of the party structures refused suggestions by the central committee to allow the then sitting members to be returned to their posts unchallenged.


Ntuane’s political mentor, Kwelagobe, was on the receiving end of Nkate’s diatribe including in newspapers and broadcast interviews. At the end of the congress, the Nkate/Merafhe faction lost against to the indomitable Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe faction. The victory of the Barataphathi at Kanye set in motion events which led to the splitting of the party and formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), of which Ntuane was among the founders.


Ntuane, has chosen ‘not to comment’ on the decision by Nkate to challenge him for the throne. Ntuane, who will be completing his term in July, has earlier stated that he will announce his decision of whether to defend his position or not after the party National Council in April this year. In a brief interview with this publication, Nkate remarked that he is not joining the secretary general race to fight anyone but to make a contribution to the party.


“In politics there is an expression which says there are no permanent friends and enemies, and there is also an expression which says even two days is a long time,” he said. “Circumstances have changed as compared to when we were going to Kanye. Some of the people you are talking about are no longer in the picture.” Nkate said he has never had personal hatred against anyone including Kwelagobe.   


A former BDP member, who was at the centre of events ahead of the Kanye Congress, has told this publication that a lot of things have changed since 2009 and that voting patterns at BDP are no longer what they used to be in the past. “BDP has learnt from the Kanye aftermath. You could see that a lot of things have changed. The way in which they voted at Mmadinare [2015 Congress] is the same way they are going to vote. No more voting based on factional divide,” he said.


The source further indicated that the A-Team and Barataphathi factions are non-existent in the current BDP at the moment, if anything, he said, it will be new factions. Since Kanye, apart from the split, there have been major changes in the politics of BDP. Both Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Mompati Merafhe, who were factional leaders then, are no longer in the picture, with the former having retired and the latter having passed on.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
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The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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