Ntuane is more like a loner in his recent pronouncements
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass is strongly opposed to the reform agenda spearheaded by the newly elected secretary general Botsalo Ntuane as majority believe it will deliver power to opposition parties on the silver platter.
Ever since he declared his candidacy for the post of secretary general ahead of Mmadinare congress, Ntuane had reforms part of his agenda, a development which earned him admirers both within and outside the party as reformist.
Ntuane was able to easily defeat his challenger and former Barataphathi faction stalwart Gaotlhaetse Mathabaphiri to succeed Mpho Balopi.
However, the reforms talk have been met by strong resistance within the BDP as majority of influential members believe the introduction of Proportional Representation or hybrid system as proposed by Ntuane will essentially hand over power to opposition in 2019.
BDP suffered the worst elections result since independence, for the first time retaining power with popular vote below 50 percent. A combined opposition popular vote tilts the scales in favour of opposition should BDP adopt a Proportional Representation (PR) as compared to the current First Past the Post (FTP) used by Botswana.
BDP was able to retain power thanks to the party’s victory in 12 constituencies where it benefited from opposition’s split votes.
Part of Ntuane inspired reforms is to avail party funding for all political parties participating in the general elections. This will effectively work in favour of the opposition parties. For a long time, BDP has been accused of retaining power because of its financial strength as compared to opposition parties. As a party in power, BDP easily attract donors and financiers. However, funding of all political will level the playing field.
Impeccable sources within BDP have also revealed to this publication that differences have emerged between Ntuane and some Sub-Committees. This became evident following reversal of Ntuane’s decision to co-opt Tumy Modise, MacDonald Peloetletse and Selwana Kesebonye to Publicity Sub-Committe. The trio were appointed on the basis that they will help defend the party in the social media spectrum.
Ntuane however has dismissed talk that the reforms are his sole idea and noted that nothing has been agreed or debated yet. Ntuane revealed that resolution 8 and 9 of the Mmadinare Congress gave the party a go ahead to look possible political reforms.
A BDP Sub-Committee Political Education and Election Committee (PEEC) chaired by Matlhabaphiri has been mandated with exploring the feasibility of political and electoral reforms. The committee has also been tasked with exploring through benchmarking whether consideration should be given to party political funding by government. “It is also a possibility that people may decide to keep the current state of affairs, but everyone will be given an opportunity to say what he thinks,” said Ntuane.
New has it on good authority that for the sole purpose of avoiding an easy defeat by opposition in 2019 because they believe the reforms will benefit opposition more than the ruling party.
Ntuane is a firmer believer of the post 1994 election scenario in which BDP was able to retain power in 1999 despite earlier fears that the party will lose power. Botswana National Front (BNF), the only opposition party in parliament then, rose from three seats to an unprecedented 13 seats in 40 seat parliament. This meant a capturing of just eight more seats in the next elections would have condemned BDP to opposition benches. Ntuane believes reforms such as introduction of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and reduction of voting age helped BDP to cling into power.
However, the political landscape has changed something which the former BDP Executive Secretary could have not paid much attention to. BDP popular vote has been declining since independence and the situation has deteriorated in recent years. BDP strength on winning elections has been having traditional strongholds where it adds a high number of constituencies. With PR in use, such strength will be of no practical relevance.
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.