Claims that Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) could be close to getting on its sickbed are being vindicated as a fall out between party Chairman and Women’s Wing leader has come to play, Botswana Guardian has established.
It was clear that the gloves were off at the BDP Women’s Wing General Assembly in Mahalapye when Party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi officially closed the event hosted by Women’s Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato. The party has on several occasions denied that its leadership is divided ever since the current Vice President Masisi who is also party chairman proclaimed that he is the next party and country president. Women’s Wing Chairperson Makgato has been mentioned in the BDP corridors among those against Masisi as president. The duo has in the past vehemently denied the claims. Masisi recently dismissed a report by this publication that those in his opposing camp deliberately snubbed his 2014 general elections celebration party in Moshupa.
However, things played out in a different way this past weekend when the BDP Women’s Wing hosted its inaugural General Assembly in Mahalapye. The three-days event drew BDP women from various constituencies around the country to discuss issues that affect them. Makgato who is also Minister of Health and Wellness said the assembly is meant to empower women politically, socially and economically.
The party leadership led by President Ian Khama graced the official opening last Friday except for the party chairman and members of the sub-committee on Communications and International Relations said to be a staunch supporters of Masisi. On Sunday, Masisi who was billed to do the official closing of the assembly allegedly told Makgato that he would not be coming.
“We were surprised to hear that VP wanted to change his mind at the eleventh hour. Makgato however convinced him to come”, said a BDP Women Wing Committee member on Sunday just before the programme could start. As if this was not enough the party chairman is said to have explained that he wanted to come at 0800hrs to make his closing address but was told by Makgato that would not be possible because that is the time when the Sunday programme would be starting.
When he took to the podium it was evident that Masisi and Makgato belong to two different worlds. Even though he enjoyed cheering by some of his supporters, one could tell that his tone and choice of words did not sit well with Makgato who is also Member of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgomani- a constituency Masisi is said to have a preferred candidate to replace Makgato.
Makgato is said to be among BDP members especially MPs who believe Infrastructure and Housing Development minister, Nonofo Molefhi should challenge Masisi for the chairmanship next year and subsequently for the presidency. Instead of focusing on the assembly during his closing speech, Masisi boasted of the achievements in his constituency in terms of recruitment. He indicated that in his constituency they work hard to recruit members and not chase away members. He also challenged BDP women to emulate women from Kanye North and Moshupa-Manyana Constituencies who he said are hardworking and urged BDP women to benchmark from them on how to do fund raising. This did not sit well with some BDP members who could be seen one by one leaving Madiba Senior Secondary School hall.
Word was that Masisi is deliberately attacking Makgato and his committee. “I am a staunch supporter of the VP but what he did today is not right. We understand they have their differences with Makgato but this is not the platform for such utterances to have been made. The Women Wing is trying its best and expectation is that the party chair was supposed to have encouraged them and shown support instead of coming here to talk about other women who did not even attend”, said an unhappy delegate.
Masisi’s camp is alleged to have been behind the fund raising activity in Kanye North which coincided with the General Assembly. Makgato had not responded to our enquiries at press time even though she promised to revert after requesting to be sent a text message while Masisi’s phone was off.