By the time the curtain falls on 2017, President Lt Gen Ian Khama would have bid well to both his party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the presidency. He will only have a few months to clear up his desk at the country’s highest office.
This year, Khama will address BDP’s last congress as its leader, at a meeting in which a battle for power is anticipated. Khama’s imminent departure has seen a number of key figures in the party lining themselves up for succession, threatening the future of the apparent heir to the throne Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The succession plan is the brainchild of former President Ketumile Masire, who prior to his retirement led reforms which led to the amendment of the constitution. The new reforms diverted a potential perilous situation in the party in which BDP factional wars threatened the stability of the party and to some extend that of the country.
Festus Mogae and Khama ascended to the throne smoothly in 1998 and 2008 but the departure of the latter next year could lead to a different story. Unlike his predecessor, Khama has had three deputies, and there has been uncertainty regarding who he intends to leave the responsibility of the country and party to. Reports are rife that, although Khama has closely guarded his views; he is keen on opening up the succession. This has since attracted big fish such as Nonofo Molefhi, Tshekedi Khama and Jacob Nkate to challenge for the throne.
Khama’s biggest concern is to leave the BDP in a better position to prolong its stay in power beyond 2019 general elections, hence treading carefully with regards to the succession plan. Failure to manage the plan could spell doom for the party. With the opposition bloc uniting and BDP still trying to regain its claim following the dismal 2014 general elections, the party’s stay in power could be under serious threat for the first time since independence.
BDP’s revival mode is countered by a declining economy, marred by unprecedented rates of job losses and on other side, a hostile worker federation of unions, Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPPPUSU).
KHAMA’S 2017 CALENDAR
Khama’s busy schedule which commenced in August 2015 will continue this year and this time around the party leader is approaching the finishing line, hence all assignments should be delivered. Since August 2015, according to party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, the president has been engaged in a series of mobilisation activities across the country. The activities include meetings with the Central Committee, regional tours, branch visits and other team building functions. Khama has addressed over 50 meetings since then.
The party will in the next seven months convene crucial gathering as all party organs; the youth league, women’s wing and the party itself meet for their elective congresses. According to observers, these three events will be heavily monitored as key figures eyeing the presidency are trying to win the support of those contesting.
As early as February this year, the party youth wing, currently led by Andy Boatile will go for its elective congress. There are some youth within the party who have defiantly started calling for reforms within the party and such activists could shape the agenda of the party if they emerge victorious.
The party will also meet for the Women’s Wing elective congress in March. The women’s wing currently led by Minister of Health and Wellness Dorcus Makgato remains, together with Youth Wing; a very influential structure in the party affairs. The battle for succession has been also been linked with the women’s wing.
Prior to the party congress, the party will also converge for the annual National Council where the party delegates scrutinise government and party polices and make some recommendations. A stage will be set when the party meets for its regular elective congress held every two years. The congress has generated much interest owing to its significance and impact of its outcome on the future of the party. The most eyed position will be that of party chairmanship, which currently is occupied by Masisi. The position has traditionally been associated with the vice presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi.
This publication has gathered that the position of the party chairmanship will be used as a starting point for consolidation of power as the party prepares for likely first party presidential elections. Since Masire’s departure the incumbent vice president has automatically ascended to the presidency and never been challenged during their presidency. Both Khama and Mogae concluded their two terms unchallenged at party level.
However, the BDP constitution states that when the party is in power, the President of the party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the party called by the Central Committee during every general election.Ntuane has informed this publication that at this point in time it is too early for the party to reveal those who are interested in contesting party positions.
“Its early days, things will reveal themselves by February or March. There might be new faces we never heard about who want to go into the Central Committee,” said Ntuane, who also declined to comment on whether he will be defending his position or not.
KHAMA’S LEGACY AT STAKE
When President Mogae bypassed frontrunners for the second in command throne; David Magang and Ponatshego Kedikilwe, it was in the back of Professor Lawrence Schlemmer’s recommendation. The Cape Town based political consultant was engaged by the party after 1994 general elections to offer prognosis of the party in the lead up to the 1999 general elections.
The 1994 general election had dealt BDP a heavy blow and had its leaders’ egos substantially bruised. For the first time in years, the prospects of losing power to opposition party became real. Schlemmer’s recommendation will exalt Khama from the army to the country’s number two position. The report had recommended that BDP, which was riven with factions, bring someone with a strong personality and appeal within its fold to help unite the part. At that time the description duly fit Ian Khama.
Almost 20 years since his grand fashion arrival in politics, a lot of questions are hovering around as to whether a man who was brought in as messiah has succeeded. By the time he leaves office next year, BDP would have hit its lowest popular vote in history, and also had an offspring—something which was peculiar to the ruling party and ubiquitous within opposition parties since independence.
The BDP split resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) will remain a centre of debate in many years to come. BMD is part of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC), a coalition of opposition parties ready to battle power with BDP in 2019 in highly anticipated elections.
Khama will be looking at protecting his legacy and avoiding a situation where the party will lose power immediately after his leadership. The economy has stunted in the last few years and did not fully recover from the 2008 global economic crisis. Unemployment fuelled by job losses has added strain to Khama’s legacy and he has a very limited time to reverse the situation.
DID KHAMA HAVE SUCCESSION PLAN?
For the entire duration of his presidency Khama has closely guarded his plans and rarely let them leak to the public. He decisions have always been surprises. When Khama ascended to the presidency in 2008, it was generally expected that he will appoint his former boss Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe as his deputy. This was fulfilled. Few metres down the line, it became apparent that Merafhe will serve only one term. But it remained secret as to who would replace the former foreign affairs minister.
In the meantime, Jacob Nkate, a well-known Khama ally was left out of parliament after losing out in the 2009 general elections, and instead Khama opted for bureaucrats in the Specially Elected Members of Parliament dispensation. Nkate, the leader of Nkate-Merafhe faction, which rooted for Khama, was later sent abroad after expressing his desire to serve as BDP chairman. Nkate had earlier served as Botswana Export Development Investment Agency (BEDIA) now Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) Chief Executive Officer where he left under controversial circumstances.
Merafhe’s departure ahead of schedule in 2011 due to ill-health saw Khama diverting his attention to his former nemesis, Kedikilwe as his number two. Kedikilwe had already expressed that he will retire from politics at the end of his parliamentary term at the time of his appointment.
Reports were rife that former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse was in pole position for the second in command position. Kitso Mokaila also got the nod from observes as probably number two, given his relation with Khama. However, the 2013 BDP primary election and the subsequent general elections left destruction in its awake. Both Seretse and Mokaila were among the victims, effectively ruling them out of the contest for vice presidency as the per the constitution demands.
After the 2014 general elections, Khama, in a move which surprised many appointed Masisi as his deputy. Masisi is now a few months away from the presidential seat and will become the man who became president after serving the shortest time of all previous presidents before ascending to the throne. Masisi would have served 3 years and four months as vice president before assuming the throne.
However, Masisi’s fate lies at the upcoming party elective congress where it will be a make or break for those with presidential ambitions.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.