Francistown West legislator Ignatius Moswaane has hit back at his detractors following a recent meeting at which the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairperson and Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi attacked him.
Botswana Guardian has been reliably informed by a BDP insider that Masisi plans to use cash power to dislodge Moswaane from Francistown West where he has thrashed many opposition candidates including BDP as a Mokoko in the 2014 general election before retracing his steps to the ruling party.
The source said the grand plan to oust Moswaane includes launching a propaganda campaign in Monarch where he commands massive support unlike other wards in his constituency.
“As for other wards including Gerald Estates and Kgaphamadi, the MP does not have a large following since he has been at loggerheads with some area councillors who want him out of the constituency,” the source disclosed.
Asked to comment, Moswaane said that whoever wants to take the constituency from him is free to do so as long as they understand that the constituency is controlled by the masses who voted him into office.
He said he was not elected by voters because he has offered them money but because they have trust in him. “As we speak, ‘ketheogetse’ as an employee of the people of Francistown and I will only address them before the general election and give them a feedback concerning different issues they have sent me to represent them on in Parliament”.
Moswaane first won the constituency following the death of then area MP Tshelang Masisi when he beat White Marobela in BDP primaries, which victory would be contested, resulting in BDP not fielding any candidate for the by-election.
In 2014 general election, Moswaane registered as an independent candidate and went on to thrash both opposition and BDP candidates before he re-joined the party. But his outspokenness has earned him foes within the party.
Billionaire and Founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, is in Botswana this week.
The business magnate, investor and philanthropist paid a courtesy call on both President Ian Khama and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday before he made time to speak to local entrepreneurs at the ongoing Global Expo. The talk titled, ‘In conversation with Sir Richard Branson,’ is the brainchild of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) which invited the business mogul to this year’s Global Expo.
BITC Director Corporate Communications, Kutlo Moagi confirmed that Sir Branson would meet the President and Vice President for a courtesy call. She could not say much about the agenda, insisting it was just a simple courtesy call. “His visit to the Office of the President will just be a courtesy call,” she said, adding that often, BITC invites prominent business personalities to not only grace the Global Expo but also to inspire the local business community and share personal business experiences.
All exhibitors at the 2017 Global Expo will have an opportunity to grace the Knight of the British Empire in an event that has strict access after Branson’s meeting at the Office of the President.
Government Spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay could also not be drawn into the details of the meeting Sir Branson will have with the President and the Vice President. “I would not want to speculate on what they will discuss,” said Dr Ramsay dismissing ideas that Sir Branson might have investment interests in Botswana. “He will speak for himself once here,” Ramsay said. It is speculated that Botswana will persuade the tycoon, who founded the Virgin Group that controls more than 400 companies, to invest either in environmental conservation, which he has a soft spot for, or in our ailing national airline. Unconfirmed reports say he will fly out of the capital shortly after his session with local entrepreneurs at the Global Expo for several other business meetings within the country. According to Forbes, Sir Branson’s net worth is $5.1 billion. He owes his fortune to a conglomerate of businesses bearing the "Virgin" brand name, including Virgin Galactic and Virgin Atlantic. The son of a barrister and flight attendant, Richard got his start with a mail-order record business almost 50 years ago. The 67-year-old primarily lives on a luxe British Virgin Islands retreat, Necker Island, which he bought for $180,000 in 1978.
How Sir Richard Branson made his $5 billion fortune
Seemingly born to be an entrepreneur, Richard Branson started his first two businesses in 1968 when he was just 17 years old. Two years later, in 1970, he opened his first business under the Virgin Group umbrella, and the rest is history.Though perhaps best known for its airlines, the Virgin Group consists of more than 60 businesses today. Combined, they bring in more than $24 billion in annual revenue and employ 71 000 people in 35 countries, according to The Telegraph of UK.
He sold Virgin Records for $1 billion in 1992, but instead of celebrating, he famously ran down London’s Ladbroke Grove in tears, distraught over cutting ties with the business. These days, the father of two dedicates most of his time to Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s non-profit entrepreneurial foundation. Established in 2004, the charity supports ventures close to Branson’s heart, including speaking out against poaching. Virgin Unite’s projects are changing the world for the better. Some of the foundation’s work includes providing life-saving healthcare to people in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria; creating Branson Centres, which have helped 4 000 entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground; and fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda.
The possibility of another debilitating split at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)exists, says political science professor, Zibani Maundeni following last weekend’s central committee elections in Tonota.
There is division in opinion between members of the Nonofo Molefhi lobby and their followers regarding the results of the BDP central committee elections that were held last Saturday at the congress.
The Molefhi faction lost all the six positions to the Mokgweetsi Masisi faction. However, despite fears that the losers would protest the results amid allegations of vote-buying by the winning group, the losers publicly pledged unconditional support for the winners in the press conferences they held after the announcement of the results.
Meanwhile, their followers, just a few metres away from them, were fretting about the same results. “This is not about me but about an institution with a culture and tradition. This is about the BDP. We have to mature and go beyond individuals. Today’s results must not cause divisions between us,” said Molefhi who pleaded with the BDP members to desist from the tendency to impute improper motives when somebody contests for a position.
Molefhi promised that no one from his supporters is going to move away from the party. “It is well with my soul,” he said after embracing the winner. Molefhi has been accused of intending to use the chairmanship position, if he won it, as a stepping stone to the Presidency of the party later, that of the country.
For his part, Botsalo Ntuane said after he lost to Mpho Balopi, “I appreciated there was going to be one winner. I respect the decision of the BDP members. Two years ago, I was in the position of our winner today. I beat my competitor for the position of secretary general at the Mmadinare congress,” said Ntuane after he lost to Mpho Balopi on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the winners, in both instances, congratulated the losers and pledged to work closely with them. Beneath this veneer of solidarity however, there was turbulence. Hordes of BDP members outside the hall sat in their cars or stood on the corridors in small groups dismissing the elections as neither free nor fair. The conversations outside the hall were dripping with mistrust, disgruntlement and bitterness from the losers as they averred that Masisi is power hungry.
Many spoke to this publication without identifying themselves as they left the Tonota College of Education (TEC) alleging vote-buying. “We are going to cross the bridge very soon,” some of them said as they vowed to decamp to the opposition. Many were overheard claiming that the playing field was not level. A lady who sat in her car with a group of friends when this reporter passed by accused Masisi of being selfish. “He is a Member of Parliament (MP), Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB), party chairman and will be President soon. Why can’t he allow the other people to lead?” she said as her companions joined the chorus of condemnation.
“We are going to form a new party or defect en-masse to the opposition to block Masisi from achieving what he wants. He will never be the President of Botswana,” she said pleading for anonymity. It remains to be seen whether ordinary members of the losing faction will change their minds and rally behind the Masisi lobby.
However, condescending and triumphant statements such as “Re kgalemeste lenyatso,”(We have humbled them) uttered by one of the winners immediately after disengaging from the embrace of the loser can only bode ill for the party which has not known internal stability for years now. What may make it difficult for the two camps to work together is the strong belief among the Molefhi camp that the playing field was not level.
There have been complaints by this faction that, while it struggled financially, their competitors had truckloads of cash from the business community which had been instructed to donate only to the Masisi faction. Matters are not helped by the fact that, not only did Khama publicly endorse Masisi, government resources were used to support the Masisi campaign effort by virtue of him being Vice President.
Observers believe that President Khama, who has publicly called upon the two factions to reach a compromise arrangement instead of competing against each other, should have used the special nomination dispensation to appoint members of the Molefhi faction into the central committee.
“We are happy that Ntuane is there as an additional member of the central committee but that is not enough,” said an observer who thinks that Khama would have made a bigger impact to the unity effort had he nominated Nonofo Molefhi himself to the central committee. Those who doubt that the BDP emerged united from the congress are informed by comments such as, “Once an enemy, always an enemy,” by a Masisi aide who boasted to this publication that an extermination campaign to wipe out the Molefhi camp is in place.
Firstly, according to him, a cabinet reshuffle, which he said is looming, will purge members of the Molefhi. According to him, there is also a grand plan by the winning group to ensure that the members of the Molefhi group lose primary elections. Indications are that, one of the reasons the BDP ran a conflict-ridden primary elections process ahead of the 2014 general election is that, the losers alleged underhand tactics by the party leadership to eliminate them.
Observers say that, history might be repeating itself. For instance, after the 2009 BDP congress, disgruntled members were targeted for sidelining and elimination. This led to a split which is blamed for the poor electoral performance by the ruling party in the 2014 general election.Should this happen this time around, the BDP will have failed to learn a lesson and the consequences of the party’s failure to read history will be too ghastly to contemplate come 2019. When asked for comment, University of Botswana don, Professor Zibani Maundeni noted that President Khama has never been a unifier.
“When President Khama’s faction lost most of the seats at the Kanye congress a few years ago, he nominated people from his faction to neutralise the winning faction. This time around, his faction won all the seats but we do not see him nominating members of the losing side to the central committee despite the fact that he was concerned about party unity before the congress,” said Maundeni.
According to Prof Maundeni, President Khama is only concerned with strengthening the faction he belongs to. In his view, had the Masisi faction lost, he would have flooded the central committee with Masisi loyalists because that is the faction he supports. “Under the circumstances, the possibility of another debilitating split exists,” observed the political science professor
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane has reiterated that his relationship with party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi is as healthy as before they were voted into office in 2015.
There have been allegations that the relationship between the two has soured over the years ever since Mmadinare where they were both voted into their current positions for the first time. The alleged sour relationship according to sources is one of the reasons why most of Ntuane’s responsibilities were taken from him and assigned other people. Ntuane no longer held the steering wheel in the recruitment drive, which has since been taken over by Masisi.
Another assignment that fell under Ntuane’s office was that of party structures where he would visit branches and regions with the aim of reviving them. This assignment has since been given to a subcommittee of the central committee - the Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC), which is headed by central committee additional member Gaothaetse Matlhabaphiri.
This week Ntuane said he has nothing against Masisi who is also the Vice President. He said they share a life even outside politics. “I have even been to VP’s place for three times this year where we discussed political issues and issues not related to politics. We have a good relationship and we have been working very well closely”, said Ntuane when defending his non-inclusion in Masisi camp.
The BDP will this weekend vote into office a new central committee in Tonota. Masisi will be defending his seat against Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi. Ntuane is the only member of the current central committee not in Masisi’s lobby list. Ntuane defended this arrangement saying he does not believe in lobby lists. He explained that he decided to go solo because lobby lists do not unite the party but rather divides the party.
“I am not for lobby lists. They have not done any good for the party. I decided to go solo just two years back because I want to appeal to all democrats. But this does not mean I have anything with those in lobby lists I just want to be the secretary general of all democrats. I want after the congress to work with everyone not having to face other people from another lobby list that I was decampaigning”, he revealed.
Ntuane however stated that he gets along with all those he is competing against. “We do meet occasionally with Molefhi where we share a cup of coffee. Balopi our offices are next to each other’s so we always meet and chat while Nkate we do converse over the phone.” He said lobby lists divide them because eligible voters would choose to associate with a certain lobby list ignoring other people who are not in that particular list.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General aspirant, Jacob Nkate could soon be back to his former lobby group led by Party Chairman and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Nkate was dumped by the camp prior to the party’s National Council held in March this year after his utterances in the media in which he was quoted saying that he would be running for the presidency of the party.
The former Ambassador to Japan found himself left in the cold after he received a communication to the effect that he is no longer part of team Masisi for the upcoming BDP elective congress billed for Tonota in July this year. Nkate was replaced by former BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi in the lobby list.
Masisi will be going up against Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi. Information reaching this publication indicates that party Treasurer Satar Dada is trying to broker a deal between the two. Negotiations started during the BDP Women’s Wing Congress held in Maun in March 2017. At the congress, which both Nkate and Masisi attended, some councillors from the Ngami District approached the two to try and bring them back together. “Four of our councillors approached the duo and from the look of things the vice president did not have a problem.
It seems there has been miscommunication between Nkate and Masisi. Nkate has promised that he is open to going back to the camp. “What is however worrisome is that Nkate was not happy with the way he was dumped as the vice president is not the one who communicated but rather Balopi did so and at the same time Balopi is an interested party,” said a councillor from Ngami who did not want to be mentioned. It is said that councillors in Ngami are all in full support of Masisi to be retained as party chairman.
There has also been news making rounds that Nkate has been approached by some of Molefhi’s foot soldiers. Nkate confirmed in an interview that he is in talks with Masisi’s team for his return. Nkate however said he would not want to sit with that thinking that they would be working together.
He said currently his focus is on campaigning for the secretary general post. “If we get back together it would be good for both of us. It is true that some councillors have approached me. We did talk and they told me they would approach VP on the matter. I am busy with my campaign and I cannot be derailed. “Nna le VP ga re a ngalelana and people need to understand that,” he said. He stated that he would be waiting for feedback from Masisi. Nkate was also shocked to have received a call from someone else other than the VP terminating their working relationship. “I believe the VP could have just given me a random call and asked me on the media statement. I could have explained clearly and he could have discovered that he had nothing to worry about”.
Nkate will battle it out with current Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, former secretary general Mpho Balopi and Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Phillip Makgalemele. Balopi, who is said to have replaced Nkate, said he is not aware of any formal communication to the effect that Nkate and Masisi belong to the same lobby list. The issue of support of the party leadership has never been based on lobby lists, said Balopi when asked if he would decide to reach a compromise with Nkate and allow the latter to stand.
The Mayor of Francistown Sylvia Tabitha Muzila, who is a specially-elected councillor for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has declared that she will defend her mayoral seat after her term came to an end on Monday.
The Mayoral elections for FCC will take place next week during a full council meeting. Muzila’s sentiments follow hard on a recent declaration by former Francistown Mayor Peter Ngoma that he will wrestle the Mayoral chain from the incumbent when her term ends.
Ngoma who is believed to be enjoying support from both Francistown West and East Members of Parliament will cross his fingers and pray that the two MPs snub Khama’s compromise deal and go ahead to influence his win against Muzila by lobbying their councillors to do so.
On the other hand, the James Kgalajwe led team which lost during the Francistown Regional Congress are intending to punish Ngoma and try to spoil his party for dumping them just a few days before the last congress.
An inside source from Tsholetsa House informed this publication that President Ian Khama highly regards Muzila for her excellent work and performance over the past years she served as a civil servant. Muzila is confident that based on her performance during her first term as the city mayor, a lot of developments have taken place including the nearly completed spaghetti intersection as well as the final opening of the Francistown Sports Complex which at one point had structural defects.
She strongly believes that she has the necessary strategic leadership and development of the city. “I should think I have achieved a lot since I became the mayor of this town and I will hope that my fellow democrats will support me to continue with my strategic plan to develop Francistown.
“As opposed to my other competitors who have so far declared interest to challenge me, I dare them to show me why they will be better developers of the city without any grassroots education in development,” she said. The BDP source said that Muzila’s second term prospects will be further bolstered by Khama’s one-candidate compromise deal in a bid to save the ailing party from further damage due to factionalism.
“Francistown councillors will endorse her with directions from the highest office like they have done in the past. Her winning prospects will also be boosted by the fact that Khama did not anger BDP members in Francistown region following the congress which went bloody followed by protests and an investigating task team which suspended those concerned. Her only undoing will be in the event Mokgweetsi Masisi and Nonofo Molefhi factions resurfaces during the caucus voting,” said the source.
As the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) readies for the make or break National Congress in Tonota this coming July divisions are now deepening. This according to highly placed sources, has resulted in the BDP custodian Botsalo Ntuane, who is expected to defend his Secretary General post calling for a compromise. In fact Ntuane wants to broker a deal between the two warring factions for the chairmanship by giving up his seat and not defend it.
Fierce battle is expected for the position of Chairmanship between Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi. A close associate of Ntuane within the BDP has told Botswana Guardian that Ntuane has expressed willingness to give Molefhi the green light to be the party secretary general so that current chairman Masisi continues unchallenged.
Some observers believe the outcome of the congress will determine the future of the party as well as gauge its ability to face a combined opposition - Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC - in the 2019 polls. Party President Ian Khama at the party National Council last month in Gaborone raised the danger of a fractured BDP going into the general elections against a united opposition.
He appealed to his followers to close ranks and reach a compromise where possible. His message was however diluted by his declaration of support for Masisi. The president’s declaration did not sit well with the supporters of Molefhi whose supporters went on to demonstrate their show of strength by singing party songs and spotting campaign regalia for their preferred candidate.
Ntuane is said to hold the opinion that the current lobby groups could be a repeat of history which resulted in the historic BDP split in 2010 that saw the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
However, investigations by Botswana Guardian have revealed that operatives in the two opposing camps, Team Masisi and Team Molefhi known commonly as ‘Basisibetsi’ and ‘Banonofhi’ respectively have deployed foot soldiers all over the country in an attempt to dominate the various party structures by installing their activists.
But amidst the campaigning, reliable sources have indicated that Ntuane, worried by the looming divisions, has in accord with President Khama’s proposal, started talking to some of his colleagues about coming up with compromise solution to address the divisions afflicting the party in the build-up to the congress.
“He has indicated that he is willing to sacrifice and step aside so that the position of the secretary general can be used to broker
peace and unity between the two camps with Molefhi becoming secretary general,” said Ntuane’s close associate. Despite being the frontrunner to retain the post in Tonota it is alleged that Ntuane thinks Masisi must be given a free passage into chairmanship since he is the incumbent and also be supported to ascend to the state presidency on April 1st 2018.
So far, Ntuane’s informal proposal is still circulating within various circles in the party and it is not yet known how it will be received especially by the much energised Banonofhi team which is raring for a show down in Tonota. Ntuane is also said to have indicated that in case his proposal fails to gain support, he will go ahead to defend his position.
Ntuane is to defend his seat against former cabinet minister and Botswana Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate, former Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Phillip Makgalemele. Ntuane could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone and had not responded to an SMS sent to him at press time.
A stress Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) this week extended the deadline for members interested in contesting Central Committee elections to noon of today (Friday) for those who had still not expressed their interest in writing to the Secretariat.
The names of those who have expressed interest in central committee positions will subsequently be published by party President Ian Khama at the council. The deadline extension was reached after some interested in contesting indicated that they also want their names to be availed during the weekend council.
Others are said to have contended that they did not see the communication relating to the expression of interest in time hence they missed the deadline. BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane confirmed to Botswana Guardian that the deadline has been extended. He however dismissed claims that the leadership of the party was under pressure to extend the deadline.
Ntuane stated that as a democratic party they had to listen to their members to ensure that no one would be left behind. He continued that people would still be allowed during the July Congress to submit names from the floor for any position. This new deadline extension could change the whole landscape. New names for various seats especially key positions could emerge at the council.
This past week a change was witnessed when party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi dropped former Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate from his lobby list as Secretary General. Nkate was expected to go head to head with Ntuane and Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Dikgang Makgalemele who is allegedly linked to Infrastructure and Housing Development Minister Nonofo Molefhi’s lobby list.
Former Francistown City Mayor Peter Ngoma had his mayoral ambitions boosted over the weekend when his newfound team floored the camp aligned to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
A Botswana Democratic Party councillor who preferred to remain anonymous told this publication that Ngoma is tipped to be elected the city mayor once Sylvia Muzila’s term ends just before the winter season. He said that Ngoma had initially aligned himself to the Kgalajwe-led faction only for the specially-elected councillor to decamp just days before the Francistown regional congress.
“Ngoma decamped following a vigorous recruitment drive by Francistown West Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane who was at one point the Mayor of the city before he graduated to parliament. Buti Billy who was also once a mayor convinced Ngoma to join their camp in order for him to be elected the city mayor and it is not surprising that Ngoma was seen a week before the Francistown regional congress dining with Billy,” the source revealed.
He continued that since the camp aligned to Nonofo Molefhi won at the just-ended regional congress, it will be easy for Ngoma to ascend to the mayoral position since he will be backed by majority of BDP councillors as well as opposition with whom he enjoys a lot of support due to his long experience and popularity within the council chambers.
Northern Extra has it on good authority that many BDP councillors are currently aligned to the Molefhi camp which assures Ngoma a ticket to clinch the mayoral position from Muzila. When contacted, Billy confirmed his recent meetings with Ngoma but pointed out that their meetings had nothing to do with Ngoma’s ambitions to contest for the mayoral seat.
“People must know that Ngoma and myself are both from the same party and there is absolutely nothing wrong for the councillor to pay me a visit at my place. Whether he is interested in the mayoral position or not will not stop him from paying me visits since we are long-time friends who grew up together. If he is interested in the mayoral position, it is his democratic right and how he goes about it should be nobody’s business,” Billy said in support of Ngoma.
For his part, Ngoma said that councillors nominate candidates for mayor and that if they pick him as a candidate he will have no choice but to accept. “For people to vote for one as a mayor, councillors will caucus behind my back and build a strong team to back me up and I will not be surprised if they pick my name since I once held the position satisfactorily for nine years. If it’s their choice to have me, then I will be grateful for their gesture of confidence towards me,” Ngoma said.
Former Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate has sealed a deal with Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to join forces for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress slated for Tonota in July this year.
Sources within both Masisi and Nkate’s camp have revealed to this publication that a deal was sealed recently for the two to work together. Masisi will be defending his seat as party Chairman while Nkate who also harboured dreams of becoming the party chairman has now joined the Vice President’s camp to contest as Secretary General.
Botswana Guardian can safely reveal that Nkate forwarded his name to express interest for the position of secretary general, currently held by Botsalo Ntuane.Nkate was tipped for the party’s chairmanship and ultimately the presidency. News within BDP corridors is that Nkate who was allegedly pushed to take up the ambassador assignment to Japan would stop at nothing this time to put his foot down and ensure that he reclaims his political status. Nkate has served before in various Party structures among them as BOMASE Regional Secretary, Ngami Constituency Secretary, BDP NYEC Chair and BDP Secretary General. This week Nkate confirmed that he has submitted his name for the secretary general seat.
“Yes I can confirm that I have responded to an announcement by the party that those who are interested should show by writing expression of interest to contest for any position in the central committee”, said Nkate. He dismissed claims that he is joining Masisi’s lobby list. He said he would be happy to work with any democrat who would approach him. “I have decided to contest for this seat after careful consideration and engagement with other fellow democrats especially my supporters. As I have said in previous communication with the media I would be happy to serve in any position that fellow democrats feel I would best suited to serve in,” revealed Nkate.
However, information gathered by this publication is that Nkate who would be challenging Ntuane has found a home under Masisi who is also enjoying the support of party leader, Ian Khama. The duo is said to have reached an agreement after long deliberations and supporters’ engagements on ways of working together. “The duo decided to join forces given its experiences and influence in the party. Nkate has been in the party for long. Masisi’s current form and command among democrats would be complemented by Nkate’s experience and alliance with other disgruntled BDP members post Festus Mogae’s era,” an insider told this publication.
Masisi, who is believed to have built base for himself among various party structures, is said to be poised for victory and anyone challenging him would face an uphill battle. His recruitment drive within the opposition, which saw masses of opposition members especially from Botswana Movement for Democracy and Botswana Congress Party joining the ruling party, has earned him respect among BDP members especially the rank and file.