As the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) readies for the make or break National Congress in Tonota this coming July divisions are now deepening. This according to highly placed sources, has resulted in the BDP custodian Botsalo Ntuane, who is expected to defend his Secretary General post calling for a compromise. In fact Ntuane wants to broker a deal between the two warring factions for the chairmanship by giving up his seat and not defend it.
Fierce battle is expected for the position of Chairmanship between Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi. A close associate of Ntuane within the BDP has told Botswana Guardian that Ntuane has expressed willingness to give Molefhi the green light to be the party secretary general so that current chairman Masisi continues unchallenged.
Some observers believe the outcome of the congress will determine the future of the party as well as gauge its ability to face a combined opposition - Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC - in the 2019 polls. Party President Ian Khama at the party National Council last month in Gaborone raised the danger of a fractured BDP going into the general elections against a united opposition.
He appealed to his followers to close ranks and reach a compromise where possible. His message was however diluted by his declaration of support for Masisi. The president’s declaration did not sit well with the supporters of Molefhi whose supporters went on to demonstrate their show of strength by singing party songs and spotting campaign regalia for their preferred candidate.
Ntuane is said to hold the opinion that the current lobby groups could be a repeat of history which resulted in the historic BDP split in 2010 that saw the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
However, investigations by Botswana Guardian have revealed that operatives in the two opposing camps, Team Masisi and Team Molefhi known commonly as ‘Basisibetsi’ and ‘Banonofhi’ respectively have deployed foot soldiers all over the country in an attempt to dominate the various party structures by installing their activists.
But amidst the campaigning, reliable sources have indicated that Ntuane, worried by the looming divisions, has in accord with President Khama’s proposal, started talking to some of his colleagues about coming up with compromise solution to address the divisions afflicting the party in the build-up to the congress.
“He has indicated that he is willing to sacrifice and step aside so that the position of the secretary general can be used to broker
peace and unity between the two camps with Molefhi becoming secretary general,” said Ntuane’s close associate. Despite being the frontrunner to retain the post in Tonota it is alleged that Ntuane thinks Masisi must be given a free passage into chairmanship since he is the incumbent and also be supported to ascend to the state presidency on April 1st 2018.
So far, Ntuane’s informal proposal is still circulating within various circles in the party and it is not yet known how it will be received especially by the much energised Banonofhi team which is raring for a show down in Tonota. Ntuane is also said to have indicated that in case his proposal fails to gain support, he will go ahead to defend his position.
Ntuane is to defend his seat against former cabinet minister and Botswana Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate, former Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Phillip Makgalemele. Ntuane could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone and had not responded to an SMS sent to him at press time.