Veteran politician and Member of Parliament for Serowe South, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi is squaring up for the position of a chairperson with Tati East legislator, Samson Guma Moyo in what promises to be one of the most fierce battle for the control of the ruling party.
As they always say, there shall be one winner. But of the two, Guma appears to be more ready to serve and his followers are already punching the air in celebratory mood. If history is a guide, they have a reason to start rubbing their hands in glee. Historically, winning the chairmanship has always been reserved for those aligned with the president. Ask the incumbent Daniel Kwelagobe who took over after serving as Secretary General for close to three decades. However, the contest proves to be more challenging this time around, as without dark spectre of factional allegiance, it has become so tight and too close to call. Compared to Venson- Moitoi, the challenger Samson Moyo Guma is a newcomer.
Although a member of the BDP, Guma did not take part during the acrimonious 1997 or 1999 congresses, he became actively involved in politics during the 2003 Gantsi congress and was already a rival as he together with his close ally and business partner, Thapelo Olopeng campaigned on Khama’s corner, against Ponatshego Kedikilwe who had Venson- Motoi in his corner. Guma himself is humble and respectable even to his rivals. During the Gantsi congress, he hung around and drove around Olopeng and Venson- Moitoi, which led to many especially the Barata Party faction suspecting that Venson-Motoi had changed sides. In terms of political maturity Venson is by far ahead of Guma but anyone who writes him off does so at his own peril. The man is a master schemer and a workaholic who goes all out to get what he wants. And although Khama has abolished factions, it would not be a far-fetched thought that he could secretly endorse one of the candidates. And if body language is any pointer, it is clear that Khama has a soft spot for Guma.
The contest for the chairmanship may also provide Khama an opportunity to pay back Guma whom he unceremoniously dropped out of cabinet after he was misled. Guma has always been loyal to Khama; even his return to the BDP was made dramatic as it was made public by Khama himself during the 50 years Anniversary celebrations at the UB stadium. With the aforegoing, Venson–Moitoi’s defeat is certain.
Guma the charmer boy
Guma is a philanthropist, and a street fighter who will always go all the way to get what he wants. His philanthropy work always comes handy for him. Remember how the unknown Guma blazed into the political scene in his constituency and won the primary elections beating the old guard to the game including the then incumbent, the late Chapson Butale. He would later be accused of having bought his way through, but that did not bother him as he was democratically elected, and the fact is democracy on its own is very expensive. The hyperactive and energetic Guma has already travelled throughout all the 57 constituencies gunning for support. He started his mobilisation and plan of action a year ago, and can now afford to relax, as he is sure that victory is certain. He is already being accused of buying his way through as he has allegedly booked several hotels, lodges as well as paying transport for delegates from the respective constituencies who form part of the 1040 electoral college. Based on his campaign he is already assured of 80 percent votes from the respective constituencies except Gaborone Central, Gaborone West South, and Molepolole South and North and Mogoditshane.
Guma’s camp argue that the party has always been run such that the haves help those with nothing in terms of paying for transport especially in constituencies which do not have representation in parliament. It is usually the responsibility of the MP and councillors to ensure that their constituency delegates make it to party gatherings.
His backers do confirm that indeed Moyo has made block bookings of hotels and lodges as well as negotiated for cheaper rates, but that he did that purely as a compassionate gesture to make party activists feel at home during these long holidays. They say that the fact that he has booked does not necessarily mean he will pay for all but it is just a way of ensuring that delegates have accommodation.
Guma went on to show humility when he apologised for deserting the BDP (although it’s an open secret hat he left as a result of frustrations) to find its splitter group- Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). This is why the party has agreed to his contesting for the position of chairperson. Besides, he is also experienced in his own right in terms of governance issues as he has been a cabinet member. As an Assistant Minister of Finance; he supervised the implementation of the National Development 10, as acting minister during the time of the late Baledzi Gaolatlhe was indisposed. This was also during the time when the world was experiencing the economic melt down.
Guma’s greatest weapon is that he has an independent mind. His fallout with BDP members was to stand alongside Gomolemo Motswaledi at the time when the party was persecuting Motswaledi. However the party’s faithful have since forgiven him especially after he unceremoniously ditched BMD and retraced his steps to BDP.
But above all, the party needs someone who will travel extensively and mobilise for support and resurrect party structures some of which are currently moribund. It also needs someone who could help build strong and capable leaders to succeed Khama.