CONTENDERS: Jagdish Shah and Thapelo Olopeng may tussle for the position of deputy treasurer at the BDP July congress
Gaborone’s flamboyant business tycoon, Jagdish Shah has confirmed to his recruiters that he will wrestle the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) vice-treasurer position.
The Multimillion Pula worth Shah, who is the majority shareholder at Township Rollers footbal club; owner of Jack’s Gym; and Zebranet, among others will bring a new dimension into the contest that has over the years been defined by money and status.
Insiders say his arrival and combination with another BDP millionaire, Satar Dada may as well be what the doctor has ordered for the BDP finances.
Shah is seen by his supporters as a shrewd businessman whose business acumen is beyond measure. He has remarkably turned a few of his establishments into well-known profitable organizations. His arrival on the scene is timely; he comes at a time when the BDP is in dire financial trouble after using millions of Pula in last year’s general elections campaign.
Dada told BDP National Council in Gaborone in March that 2014 was the most difficult financial period for the party because the campaigns were robust. His report to the meeting was that the party had to spend over P30 million to secure its majority in Parliament.
The party’s popular support however dropped from 53.26 % in 2009 to 46.455% in the 2014 general election. Shah’s suitors say the party needs financially disciplined cadres at the party’s financial offices.
Shah will have to beat Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olopeng who although many have ascribed his sudden rise in politics to his acquaintance with President Lt Gen Ian Khama, has done so well to prove his mettle. He mercilessly white washed the former deputy speaker of parliament, Pono Moatlhodi in the BDP primaries last year. This happened despite Moatlhodi’s wealth of experience.
The race for positions at forthcoming ruling party’s July elective congress keeps on taking twists and turns as some candidates continue to calculate and measure their chances of success as well as the chances that their candidacy may ruin going forward. Such elections are notorious for creating factions and mistrusts within the BDP.
Shah, although a newcomer in local politics, is confident that when the time comes he will render his services to the BDP but said he does not want to engage the media on his candidacy for now. “I am still watching the space, I will speak when the time is right,” he said.
Asked about what he would be bringing to the BDP, he said he will have to familiarize himself with the party’s culture and intentions to answer that question. Although he declined to confirm or deny to this publication that he will be available, he urged this reporter to wait for the right time.
Weekendpost can however confirm that Shah has confirmed to his recruiters that he is available to take on Olopeng.
Khama has previously expressed his wish to have more investors in the party. He revealed at last year’s elections strategy meeting that most of them helped the BDP win elections through donations, further adding that they had said that the money should be used to wrestle power in opposition-held constituencies.
Insiders say Shah may as well be the party treasurer following Dada ‘s departure. The latter is said to have declared his fatigue and willingness to focus on his businesses. Dada is the party’s longest serving treasurer who many dared never to oppose.
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.