The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has not endorsed any candidate for the crucial elections to its central committee that will be the major item on the agenda of the ruling party’s congress in July in Mmadinare.
Deputy Administrative Secretary Lee Lesetedi has rubbished rumours that the party had endorsed Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi as utter speculation. Nothing of the sort was agreed at a BDP meeting that was held in Palapye on Monday this week, Lesetedi said. The rumour was the result of a misunderstanding, he explained. When one councillor asked Masisi if he was standing for the chairmanship of the party at the Palapye meeting, Masisi’s response was that he would answer the question only if it was asked by the President.
In Lesetedi’s view, endorsement was neither right nor wrong because such a conclusion would depend on the motive. There would be nothing wrong with endorsing a person of the right calibre to take the party to greater heights, he said. He emphasized that any endorsement would have to be done carefully to avoid factions that may arise in the party as a result of people taking sides. According to Lesetedi, the BDP wants all the candidates to have the liberty and an equal opportunity to contest.
Asked why this time around the BDP was not endorsing any individual as former president Festus Mogae had done with Khama as chairman, he said that was not an option in today’s circumstances because the party had to be called to order after Mogae’s endorsement of Khama. “Remember that the endorsement of Khama was a remedy to BDP factions,” he said. “It was intended to stop divisions within the party. For us to endorse an individual, there has to be very good reasons, such as when the stability of the party is under threat.”
The endorsement of Khama during Mogae’s tenure was an attempt to neutralize factionalism in the BDP which was torn between the Merafhe-Nkate and Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe factions. Khama subsequently defeated Ponatshego Kedikilwe for the chairmanship of the BDP at a congress held in Ghanzi. Asked about the calibre of candidates that the party wants, Lesetedi said he could only comment once the party had consulted its members on what kind of candidate are wanted.
But can the BDP avoid situations where a successful candidate quits as a throwback to what happened after Guma Moyo defeated Pelonomi Venson-Motoi at a congress in Maun?
Biggie Butale, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, Tebelelo Seretse, Dithapelo Tshotlego, Seteng Motalaote and Moemedi Dijeng are in the race for the BDP chairmanship.