Factional cracks within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are now taking centre-stage as the anti-Mokgweetsi Masisi camp snubbed his victory celebration this past weekend.
BDP Chairman Masisi, who is also the country’s Vice President, hosted a victory celebration in Moshupa for winning the 2014 general election in the Manyana-Moshupa Constituency. Information gathered on the ground during the well-attended event is that those who are against the party chairman being the president of the party decided to stay away.Among cabinet ministers missing at the celebration were Dorcas Makgato, Tshekedi Khama, Biggie Butale and Prince Maele although it could not be established whether they are anti-Masisi.
Insiders say it was expected that by virtue of being VP and Chairman of the party, everyone more especially, Members of Parliament and ministers-both whom he is their leader in Parliament and cabinet and Central Committee, should have made it to the Saturday event. It is alleged that those who do not support Masisi are now rallying behind Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi for the country’s top post. Masisi will take over as Head of State in April 2018 when President Ian Khama’s term ends on March 31st the same year. Traditionally in the BDP Masisi is expected to be endorsed during a Special Congress the following year (2019) as party president and Presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections. Things seem to be different as Masisi now faces a likely challenge from Molefhi and Jacob Nkate.
Some senior ministers and other MPs are said to be against Masisi taking over the reigns. The contention has been about his recruitment drive where he is believed to be aligning more with the new recruits from opposition parties. They are also said to be not happy with his leadership style which they believe is not more divorced from that of the current president. Others are not happy that the VP did not push for party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane to be nominated Specially Elected MP.
Ntuane was also not present at the event. He was however reported to have been part of the team that attended the funeral of a councillor in Palapye but others argue that was not reason enough. Also the ministers and MPs who stayed away from Masisi’s celebration are said to have made excuses for their no show at the event. Some within the party have argued that the MPs and Ministers together with Ntuane are being crucified over nothing. “It is not compulsory that the secretary general and other committee members, and ministers should attend. Another thing there were many party activities that the leadership of the party had to attend. For example, Ntuane was at the funeral of our councillor in Palapye and was reading the party message on behalf of the president at the funeral”, said an MP who attended the victory party but said was not in support of Masisi.
What this publication gathered at the Moshupa celebration was that it was now a clear indication that the game is on as those viewed to be anti-Masisi decided to attend other celebrations that were taking place, such as the Mathangwane Ward in Shashe West Constituency. Molefhi was however present at the Masisi event. BDP insiders told this publication that the resurrection of factions in the party is now imminent and this could affect the party negatively in the 2019 election. Masisi has been accused within the BDP corridors of surrounding himself with new recruits from the opposition ranks and neglecting loyal BDP members.
But those close to Masisi indicate that the chairman wants a team of workaholics who are on the ground. Ntuane said claims of factions are baseless and only aimed at destroying the party. He said factions are a thing of the past in the BDP. “Look attendance at victory celebrations which take place all over the country every weekend is not compulsory. You attend if you are available. And by the way I do not have to account to the media or anyone for that matter on my non-presence or even my presence had I been there”, argued Ntuane.