As the year is coming to an end, so does the Botswana Democratic Party’s rich ‘Camp Dubai’ faction which is reaching a total fallout, Botswana Guardian has established. Camp Dubai which made history last year during Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress in Tonota as the most financed, with robust campaigns and strategies, has now reached its sell by date. Key figures in the camp include President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Secretary General Mpho Balopi, Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Guma, Specially Elected Councillor and BDP Sub-committee on Communications and International Relations Secretary Roseline Panzirah-Matshome.
Once a force to reckon with, relations soured for the camp after the Tonota congress but things have now escalated. According to information reaching this publication the key figures do not see eye to eye and have been doing everything possible to pin each other down.At the centre of the controversy is power and the need to be close to President Dr Masisi. It is alleged that members have resorted to underhand tactics against each other to be close and trusted ally of Dr Masisi since he became president.
Sources have revealed that preparations for next year’s congress have also come to play as the Camp Dubai players are vying for positions in the central committee. Guma has since indicated that he would be contesting against Balopi for the position of Secretary General while Panzirah-Matshome wants to be Deputy Secretary General. It is not yet clear if current Deputy Secretary General also Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi will defend his seat. Guma was recently denied an opportunity to address a strategic meeting in Kgalagadi region which was abruptly cancelled. Balopi was blamed for the cancellation. He however distanced himself from such developments. Fresh information has revealed that Panzirah-Matshome is being cajoled into not contesting.
Panzirah-Matshome was the top key player in Camp Dubai since the 2015 Mmadinare congress that ushered in Dr Masisi as party chairman. Dr Masisi came into the race at the last minute. It is alleged that if she contests some of the Camp Dubai members might bite the dust as the person who played a role is seeking funding and strategising would now be occupied with contesting for office. Her support for Guma’s bid for Secretary General of the party is said to have also worsened her relationship with Balopi- the man whom she has been working closely with while Dr. Masisi was still BDP Chairman and with whom they ensured that Camp Dubai flourish.
This is said to have sparked a serious tiff between her and Balopi. She is said to be accusing Balopi of sending people to attack her during party gatherings and in some of the party’s social media groups. The duo is said to have long been at loggerheads since Dr. Masisi ascended to the presidency. Impeccable sources have revealed that during the BDP Women’s Wing Conference that was held at Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School this past weekend Dr. Masisi promised to support Panzirah-Matshome.
“The President and the VP had promised her their support. However, what is confusing is that the promise seems not to be genuine. We need women also in the Executive Committee of our Central Committee which is why as women we stand by her. These men within the BDP do not want us to rise they want us to do the dirty work for them,” said a member of the women’s wing committee. The source further revealed that the president later met Panzirah-Matshome for a meeting with the aim of convincing her to make peace with Balopi and others.
Botswana Guardian is in possession of some communications in a BDP WhatsApp Group called Road to 2019 and another called BDP National Youth Wing 2017-2019 where there is an exchange of words between Panzirah-Matshome and other members of the groups. In the groups she is accused of being behind the creation of New Jerusalem Faction and dividing the party. Since the Tonota Congress Camp Dubai has never met for evaluation as agreed, Botswana Guardian can confirm. The camp also failed to host an appreciation party for their members as per the agreement. Some of the members who were in the campaign team still owe P100 000.00 which was pledged as a commitment towards the campaign.
Contacted for comment Panzirah-Matshome confirmed that all is not well between her and Balopi. She also stated that she is aware that Balopi has sent some people within the BDP to attack her. “I know the communication you are talking about. Those young boys who are busy insulting me are associated with Balopi and everyone knows that. But I am not going to crack, you should tell them so. I am contesting and I am not moved come rain or whatever. “I have worked so hard for other people and it is time I prove that even women can lead and we want our male counterparts to appreciate that,” she said. Regarding the support from President and Vice President and their meeting, Panzirah-Matshome said as a member of the Central Committee she would meet from time to time with the leadership of the party and “it is not anything new and something worth sharing with the media.”
For his part Balopi said he is not going to be involved in petty talks. He wondered why he would tell people to attack Panzirah-Matshome. “She should tell you what her problem is. I am not going to lower my stature and integrity to discuss such issues. As the BDP we have structures that deal with issues of concern.“I am not even in those social media platforms. I am bigger than that and I represent a bigger political organisation in the country. I am not for petty talk because I am not petty,” said Balopi. He pointed out that he has been attacked on several occasions about things he knows nothing about and has decided to keep quiet. The secretary general said he would not be drawn into discussing matters with the media while there are proper internal channels that can be used.