Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi has joined in the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) fray, charging that party’s leadership crisis vindicates President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama.
At a BDP Congress held last week, Masisi could not resist taking a jab at BDP’s offshoot by accusing them of hypocrisy by wanting to amend the constitution to give their president more powers.
Khama came under fire and was accused of having gone overboard with exercise of his powers when he suspended the then just elected party Secretary General Gomolemo Motswaledi for 60 days and later five years from the BDP.
The unprecedented decision, which also barred Motswaledi from contesting parliamentary elections in Gaborone central, set in motion a series of events which led to the split of BDP, resulting in formation of the BMD.
“They left the BDP on the grounds of the party president’s powers, and went ahead to establish a party with a constitution that does not give the president powers,” he said.
“Now they want to go for special congress to amend the constitution and give their president powers.”
The BDP chairman said even the party leader himself Ndaba Gaolathe has declared that the BMD National Executive Committee (BMD) is full of jokes.
Masisi told party delegates that back then, Khama acted in an appropriate manner by restoring order through exercise of his powers, something he said the BMD leader cannot do at the moment because he does not have powers.
Clause 34.1.5 of BDP’s constitution grants the party president the power to "suspend any member of the party for up to 60 days on the grounds of such member's behaviour pending action by the Disciplinary Committee".
Masisi, who at the time BMD was formed was Assistant Minister in the Office of the President, remarked that Mogoditshane holds mixed memories for the party, because it is the place where the decision to split from the BDP was taken by Barataphathi stalwarts.
BMD, a constituent of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was established in 2010 following protracted wars between then dominant party factions known as Barataphathi and the A- Team.
Prior to that, Barataphathi had made an effort to challenge Khama’s powers when, immediately after the 2009 Kanye Congress at which his team lost, he appointed 77 members into sub-committees without consulting the Central Committee.
Khama also went on to extend the contract of then party Executive Secretary Dr Comma Serema, a duty which ordinarily was reserved for the secretary general as head of secretariat.
Khama would later emerge victorious in a subsequent lawsuit launched by Motswaledi and his supporters on the grounds of his immunity which he enjoyed as sitting president.
Six years later, BMD could be heading back to congress to make some amendments in the constitution of the party. The NEC majority, versus party president and his deputy have rendered the party dysfunctional with the two groups defying each other.
Constitutional amendments have been proposed by the party structures for the looming congress. Although it has not surfaced yet the exact proposed amendments, key among these is diluting the powers of the NEC, and enabling other structures to act jointly with the party president to make decisions.
Some members of the party have held reservations with regard to giving the president the powers to either suspend or expel members from the party if they bring the name of the party into disrepute.
With Gaolathe being backed by over 23 branches through letters to the NEC, requesting for a special congress, the NEC would be compelled to convene the congress within the next two weeks.
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.