President Ian Khama’s grand plan to annihilate the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) by recruiting its key members is boomeranging back to haunt the ruling party, the Botswana Guardian has learnt.The move, according to sources, is rekindling the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) factions, which were now becoming a thing of the past.
BMD - an offspring of the ruling party - was formed in 2010 mainly due to differences between the Barata-Phathi faction and President Ian Khama. The former accused Khama of autocracy and BDP of lacking inner party democracy. Years later, Khama seems to have softened his stance on former members of the party. He has said they are welcome back to the BDP. The latter has now made great efforts in recruiting into its fold leading members of the BMD.
But not all in the ruling party are happy about this move as sources disclose that not all BMD members rejoining the BDP are entirely welcome. This publication understands that attempts by Khama to root out factions were showing signs of bearing fruit until he started recruiting BMD founders back to the ruling party. “He is making a mistake by recruiting his former political enemies and bitter rivals in the form of BMD founders back into the BDP fold,” said a BDP insider who sympathises with the A-team faction.
Some BDP members, who spoke to this publication, are concerned about the resurfacing of factions within the BDP, especially with the recent recruitments of former Barata-Phathi leaders and BMD founders. They note that what President Khama sees as a good strategy to destroy the BMD is akin to planting a time bomb that will most likely explode during or after the upcoming Bulela Ditswe BDP primary elections.
“BMD was never a threat to the BDP and it does not make any political sense to start recruiting people who were directly responsible for the destabilisation of the party a few years ago,” argues one. Reports indicate that Khama is at the forefront of the recruitment drive that is targeting BMD members, including having MP Tawana Moremi back to the party. This is part of his strategy to make the BMD irrelevant.
This has raised concerns within A-team members, who feel that Khama’s continued chewing of fat with his “political enemies and bitter rivals” is strengthening the Barata-Phathi faction. Khama is now said to be closer to former BMD founders such as Guma Moyo. “He (Khama) wants Moyo to be the next BDP chairman,” said a source.
Moyo is likely to face either Jacob Nkate or Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the position. But one senior BDP official said he was not aware of the perception that BMD members who are rejoining the party are the ones rekindling the factions. He observed that when the primary elections season approaches, it “brings out the ugly in everyone.”
Sources say the Barata-Phathi faction, which has lately been silenced is now regrouping and aiming to reclaim the party in 2013. “They (Barata-Phathi) are eyeing the 2013 BDP elective congress,” said another source. Also the recent call by the BDP leadership that all those who wish to contest the forth-coming primary elections in 2013 for both parliamentary and council seats to submit expressions of interest has fuelled the rise of factions.
“This is because BDP members were told that those who want to contest but are holding positions in the party at the regions should resign their positions, now the regions are electing new members along factional lines,” an insider noted. Some BDP members apparently want to use the regional positions to gain support from the general members and resign from the positions in January next year. “That is when they will submit expressions to contest.”
This past weekend the BDP Gaborone Region held a congress where a new BDP regional committee was voted in and as it turned out, the Barata-Phathi faction of the BDP won all the seats on offer. Former youth wing president Bontsi Monare – associated with Barata-Phathi faction – beat his challenger Lesedi Dintwe of the rival A-Team faction. But there are those within the BDP who argue that Monare is neither Barata-Phathi nor A-team.
“He is still playing his cards close to the chest because we understand that he is interested in contesting for the primary elections for Gaborone Central or the Village ward council seat,” said an insider. Most regions are expected to elect new members and now the BDP central committee is concerned. A central committee meeting held last Monday has apparently instructed that where possible regions should compromise and co-opt for positions on offer.