Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factional wars have started to tear the party apart ahead of 2019 general elections, Botswana Guardian can reveal.
The party is divided in two with some supporting former president Ian Khama while others are fighting in the corner of President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The fight between the two factions has resulted in Bulela-Ditswe which was scheduled for this weekend being suspended indefinitely.
The BDP postponed the primaries on allegations of hacking of the party’s system. However, insiders have revealed that this is just an ‘excuse’ by those in support of Masisi as they want to re-strategise following a tip-off that the Khama-led team is also targeting candidates who are sympathetic to Masisi. The regrouping is also for the Masisi team to consolidate power to be able to contain the situation even post primary elections.
The Masisi camp has also been targeting some of the candidates who were deemed to be anti-Masisi administration. Mostly those on the Masisi hit list are those who were not supporting him last year when he contested the party’s chairmanship. Intelligence from both factions is said to be high with each trying to infiltrate the other.
The dismissal of the hacking according to insiders is on the basis that verification of voters’ rolls has been ongoing for the past three months with the involvement of Electoral Board and Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) deployees across the country. The entrance of Khama in the factional turf follows the ‘perceived’ frustrations and humiliations the former president has repeatedly suffered lately at the hands of Masisi.
Indications are that Khama had thought Masisi would be eating from his palm but after assuming the presidency of the party and that of the country, Masisi started cracking the whip on Khama’s administration. Masisi has since asserted his control and Khama, like any other citizen or BDP member, has to dance to his tunes. This is said to have angered Khama who has since launched a war on Masisi and his team. Khama is said to be consolidating power especially in the central district which is BDP’s biggest Region.
Khama has the advantage of being Bangwato Paramount chief to gain access in the region where he addresses Kgotla meetings and does walkabouts. The Khama factor is said to be causing BDP Central Committee, some ministers and Members of Parliament who want to survive Bulela-Ditswe, a serious headache. Some have allegedly called for the former president to be put on a tight leash before things spiral out of control.
Some Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers are said to have expressed concern over Khama’s latest conduct. It is alleged that this has made them to influence the postponement of the elections. Khama has already visited constituencies held by some key members of the party and Central Committee such as party chairman and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane who faces a tight competition in Boteti West and Deputy Secretary General and Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi who is also facing an uphill battle in his constituency.
While the factional turf is getting nasty, it is said to have also hit Tsholetsa House where the voters’ roll and membership cards are made. Information gathered by this publication revealed that the party office does not make corrections to the voters’ rolls which were corrected by local structures, when they reach Tsholetsa House. In the same fashion some voters have been blacklisted from the voters’ rolls even staunch BDP members.
The secretariat, together with some Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) members, have been accused of conniving to blacklist some voters. Some voters have been removed from the voters’ roll of a certain ward and moved to another ward which they do not reside in. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi has admitted that there has been a problem regarding the voters’ rolls. He has however maintained that there is no animosity between Khama and Masisi.
He said that just like other former presidents, Khama contributes to the party in any way possible. He said comments that are being made would not derail the BDP Central Committee from delivering credible elections. He said as a party that has been in power for more than 50 years and has been delivering credible elections, they would not risk this time around to deliver compromised primary elections in the 40 constituencies. According to Balopi, Khama has a right to his opinion on how he sees things but as BDP they are prepared to win the 2019 general election with a convincing margin.
Balopi indicated that a meeting with the over 1000 candidates, central committee members, branch and regional leadership scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) in Palapye is expected to address all the issues including the issues of the primaries. He said expectation is that at the meeting the issue of hacking would have been handled and a new date of election communicated.