Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) aspirant for the position of Secretary General, Jacob Nkate finds himself between a rock and a hard place as he has been pushed into a corner by BDP top brass, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
Nkate a former Botswana Ambassador to Japan this week was at pains to explain to his supporters across the country and in Ngamiland his ambitions for the party’s central Committee position. Botswana Guardian is reliably informed that during his campaign meeting in Ghanzi on Sunday, Nkate had to explain to those who had pledged support for him to contest for the Secretary General position as to why he had pulled out.
This followed the Ngami Branch Congress this past weekend in Kareng where party chairman and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi told the congress to vote Nkate for additional member position in the Central Committee. Masisi who will be defending his position as party chairman in the coming elective congress billed for Tonota from 7th to 9th 2017 endorsed Mpho Balopi for the position of Secretary General.
During the early days of campaigns Nkate was associated with Masisi’s lobbylist but the relationship between the two broke down following media reports that after the BDP Tonota Congress Nkate would run for presidency. Early this year Nkate and Masisi were said to be in talks with the aim of rejoining forces. During this past weekend Ngami Congress Masisi made it clear who his favourite for the Secretary General position was.
According to reports by government publication The Daily News Masisi told delegates that Balopi is a team player and would be able to connect BDP with other parties internationally. He asked democrats to vote Nkate as additional member. According to sources Nkate who was present at the meeting was shocked to hear the Vice President’s statement.
It was after this meeting that Ngami councillors who support Nkate and not Balopi for secretary general position, demanded answers. During the Women’s Wing Congress in Maun this year Ngami councillors were among the democrats that brokered a deal between Nkate and Masisi to work together. The statement is said to have taken them by surprise, as Nkate had not communicated this with them.
A campaign team meeting is said to have been held on Tuesday night where Nkate had to give reassurance about his position. It was after this meeting that it was further discovered that the party top brass is pushing Nkate out of Ngami Constituency. An impeccable source revealed to this publication that Masisi and other BDP members had a meeting with Nkate where he was asked to relocate to Gaborone Bonnington North.
It is said that he was promised not to be subjected to Bulela-Ditswe primary election if he agrees to relocate. The plan according to sources is for Nkate not to challenge area MP who is also Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Thato Kwerepe.
Kwerepe is a staunch supporter and associate of the Vice President. Nkate is said to have made it clear that he has made groundwork in Ngami and that is where he would be contesting for the Parliamentary seat. Nkate’s bid for the constituency is expected to come with hurdles as Kwerepe enjoys the support of the party president Ian Khama and Masisi while Nkate’s relationship with the party president which has for a long time been on rocky grounds, is said to not have improved.
Information gathered by this publication is that even if he relocates to Gaborone Bonnington North he would not enjoy the support of structures and would get a humiliation against Umbrella for Democratic Change President and current MP Duma Boko. The party structures in this constituency are said to have decried lack of support from the party leadership since losing the constituency in 2014 when Robert Masitara represented the party.
Contacted for comment Nkate said as far as he knows he is still in the race for Secretary General position. He stated that he does not know why the vice president called on fellow democrats to give him a vote for additional member.
“I am contesting for the position that I have forwarded my name for and nothing has changed. I would not speak for the VP. My focus is on my campaign as the congress is around the corner,” said Nkate. Nkate declined to discuss the Gantsi meeting saying it is an internal party matter. He would also not be drawn into discussing his parliamentary candidacy.
“Look my focus is on Tonota. It would also be premature for me to be talking about Bulela-Ditswe because it would be outside the party protocol and procedure,” said Nkate. At the Ngami congress Masisi allegedly revealed that he has asked Nkate and Kwerepe not to contest against each other. He is said to have challenged the duo to publicly support the one who would be standing in the constituency.
Nkate is the former area MP and after losing during the party primaries he was later given the diplomatic post. Masisi could not be reached at press time as his mobile phone was off. BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said the party top leadership does not push out anyone as all members are protected by the BDP Constitution to contest for any leadership position or participate in Bulela-Ditswe for parliament or council seat.
He said as long as rules and regulations are followed there shouldn’t be any problem. “The issue of consensus came as a resolution during our special congress in Mogoditshane. We do not impose that on our members because it would be a violation of our constitution. Consensus is taken by interested candidates through dialogue and as the party leadership we do not and must not get involved. If they agree that is well and good for the party and if they do not then it is their right to contest and let democrats decide,” explained Ntuane.