THE CHALLENGE IS ON: Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang will take on Taolo Lucas for vice presidency; while Kentse Rammidi confirmed he will challenge for secretary general position.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) heavy weights will go for jugular when the party meet for its elective congress in Kanye next month and indications are that old faces will be removed from the much slimmer central committee.
The party will head into next month’s elective congress following the 2014 general election ignominy, in which the party emerged with only three parliamentary seats.
Still smarting away from the defeat, a number of influential BCP members are gearing up to contest for executive committee positions, including that one of presidency. The incumbent party president Dumelang Saleshando has been unchallenged since ascending to the throne in July 2010.
Weekend Post has it on good authority that James Olesitse, the party’s former parliamentary candidate for Palapye in the last general elections may contest for the presidency against Saleshando should his handlers continue to push him. Olesitse contested for party chairmanship at the party’s last congress but was defeated by Motsei Rapelana.
Another interesting development is Dr Kesitigile Gobotswang’s second bid for the party’s number two post. Dr Gobotswang served as party Vice President from 2005 until 2010 deputising, Gilson Saleshando during his tenure.
Gobotswang contested for the position of Secretary General at the Maun congress in which a gentleman’s agreement was reached to strategically pave way for Ephraim Setshwaelo in the party Vice Presidency. BCP had just merged with Setshwaelo’s Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) a few months before the congress.
This time around former party secretary general, Taolo Lucas will take on Gobotswang for Vice Presidency. Lucas is the incumbent Information and publicity secretary, having been in the post since the Maun Congress. The Vice Presidency post is now lucrative in the BCP new constitution.
In the past it was just a ceremonial position and under the new regime the BCP vice president is responsible for policy development and convening the policy forum. Gobotswang may relish the chance because during his tenure as vice president he spearheaded the development of BCP Demoracy Alerts and also pushed the CKGR investigations among other things.
Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse will contest for the Information and Publicity Secretary post. Keorapetse will be challenged by former party parliamentary candidate for Nata-Gweta Dr Ditiro Majadibodu for the position. Keorapetse is the only party MP who has so far expressed interest to serve in the party’s executive committee. MPs Bagalatia Arone and Samuel Rantuana prefer keeping a low profile at the moment.
Meanwhile political firebrand, Kentse Rammidi has allegedly refused to contest for the position of Secretary General, raising doubts about his future at the party after losing his parliamentary seat under his BCP ticket. Rammidi, who was initially elected as BDP MP in 2009, quit the party to join Botswana National Front (BNF) in 2011, before joining BCP in 2012.
Phillip Monowe, the Kgatleng based activist and academic will contest for the position of Secretary General. Rammidi’s noncommittal stance leaves him as the lone contender for the position. Dr Philp Mbulawa, another party former parliamentary candidate has emerged as a strong contender for the position of party chairmanship, which is currently held by Rapelana.
For the better part of its existence, BCP has been viewed as avoiding clashes for leadership positions, especially the influential ones. The 2010 party congress saw leadership positions being contested through compromise model. Retiring Gilson Saleshando was succeeded by his son Dumelang Saleshando, Setshwaelo becoming his deputy, while Gobotswang was moved to the position of Secretary General. Lucas replaced Dumelang as party spokesperson.
In 2013, former BAM president, Setshwaelo announced that he will not defend his position as the party’s number two. The development saw Anna Motlhagodi tussling for the position with Batisani Maswabilili, with the latter emerging as the victor.
In the last party congress in 2013 the following sailed to the position of the executive committee unopposed: Saleshando (President), Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang (Secretary-General), Akanyang Magama (deputy Secretary-General), Dennis Alexander ( Treasurer), Morgan Moseki (Secretary for Legal Affairs), Lebogang Letsie (Secretary for Public Education), Florence Shagwa (Secretary for Political Education)Obakeng Kanthaga (Secretary for Economic Affairs), Thuto Thuto (Secretary for Sports), Steven Makhura (Director of Elections) and Dr Habaudi Hubona (Secretary for Health).
The change in the status quo is however believed to have been triggered by the dismal performance of the party in last year’s October general elections. Although the party increased its popular vote by 2%, the number of seats gained in the last elections fell dramatically. BCP lost Chobe, Ngami constituencies to BDP, while the constituency which was always believed to be party stronghold Gaborone Central was won by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) cutting short Saleshando’s 10 year spell in parliament.
BCP also could not retain the constituencies it gained through defectors losing both Kgatleng East and Kanye North to UDC and BDP respectively.
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.