Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, is playing his cards close to his chest as the crucial July elective congress approaches.
In a soul searching journey which started in December last year and expected to last until March, the BDP vanguard will make a decision on whether to defend his position or not, this publication has been reliably informed. In a presidential succession battle playing out in the party, Ntuane appears to be detached from the events, despite holding the position which places him at the helm of party structures.
Since his election as party Secretary General in July 2015, Ntuane has had to fight for space within the party with Chairman and Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi. In an effort to consolidate his power, Masisi has taken a frontline in the recruitment drive, sidelining Ntuane in the process. The matter of conflict between Ntuane and Masisi has been down played by the party for some time now.
Ntuane could not reveal whether he will defend his position or not, saying it is too early for such talk. Currently all eyes are on the party chairmanship, viewed as an integral part of the succession plan but interest could start developing for the position of secretary general. It is reported that former secretary general, Mpho Balopi could be making a comeback. Balopi is part of the central committee as an additional member.
Inside sources have revealed that President Lt Gen Ian Khama has contemplated offering the vacant Japanese ambassadorial role to Ntuane. The post became vacant after Jacob Nkate’s tenure came to an end at the fall of last year. Khama has been known to exile activists within the party by offering them posts outside the political party scope to achieve a political agenda. It is believed that Khama’s decision to leave Nkate out of his cabinet in 2009 after the latter lost the general election was a tactical decision to keep him (Nkate) out of politics. Nkate has always shown his presidential ambitions.
Ntuane has however not taken seriously rumours doing rounds about him being posted abroad on a diplomatic mission. “It’s a silly season of rumours,” he said, “There is so much gossip; I do not even react to such bar talk.”
Ntuane was elected to the BDP Central Committee at the 2015Mmadinare Congress, defeating former fellow Barataphathi stalwart, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, in a landslide victory. Ntuane ascended to the position following a hyped campaign centred on the political and electoral reforms.
Although delegates endorsed his proposed reforms and mandated Political Education and Election Committee (PEEC) to explore the feasibility of political and electoral reforms, the proposed reforms never saw the light of day. The central committee was furnished with the report at the end of November in 2015, but it was reportedly set aside since the big wigs including President Ian Khama were not in favour of Ntuane’s proposed reforms. At the heart of the reforms were several proposals such as adoption of hybrid electoral system encompassing First Past The Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR).
For the first time in history, Ntuane convinced his colleagues in the BDP to open up to the possibility of introducing political party funding, a subject that has been a ‘taboo’ within the party. Political funding was part of the debate and discussions held by the regions with the view of adopting the idea or maintaining the state of affairs.
Political party funding has attracted a number of credible proponents in the last few years that are of the view that, a matured democracy like that of Botswana should have by now embraced such an initiative. Among them is former President Sir Quett Ketumile Masire who said that failure to do so may result in political parties sourcing funds from undesirable organisations in foreign countries.
Opponents of the reforms within the BDP central committee believe the introduction of Proportional Representation or hybrid system as proposed by Ntuane will essentially hand over power to opposition in 2019. With little support in the central committee, Ntuane’s reforms could as well be a closed subject in the party after the July congress.
Ntuane has however refused to accept that the reforms have been rejected, rather opting to reach that conclusion only when if at the end of his term, the party has not acted on them.
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.