Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi may not readily admit it, but her campaign for the chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) looks shaky ahead of the party’s July elective congress.The new central committee will take the party to the 2014 general elections.
The first indication of this is last weekend’s branch committee elections in Venson-Moitoi’s Serowe South constituency, which saw the education minister’s primary elections challenger Sefane Phuthego and two others elected as delegates to the July congress in Maun.
The two are Edward Galefele and Oratile Onalepelo - council primary election contenders for Thabala and Mogome respectively. The three were elected as additional members to the existing seven members of the Serowe South branch committee who are said to be backing Samson Guma for the BDP chairmanship. As the race for the control of the party continues to heat up, various regions and constituency branches have been hard at work to elect delegates to the Maun national congress thus giving a clue as to where the race is headed.
While it is not yet clear who between Venson-Moitoi and Guma has an edge over the other, there are indications that Venson-Moitoi may not be popular with people in her own constituency if the weekend elections are anything to go by. Worse still, of the 12 Serowe South councillors only three – Ronald Phuthego, Ogaisamang Poifo (specially nominated) and councillor for Moiyabana – Obannetse Gaerobale – are known to be sympathetic to Venson-Moitoi in her bid to outdo Guma.
This, according to sources, is a huge blow to the minister’s chances of winning the BDP top post. In fact those who have been watching the events posit that the minister’s support in Central District – which has the highest number of constituencies, branches and councillors (over 140) across the country – is weak, an indication that she may lose to Guma.
To add salt to injury, as Venson-Moitoi was still reeling from the weekend branch committee election shock in her own backyard, Tsholetsa House dropped another bombshell in Tswapong North branch where the team that supported the minister lost an election appeal against the current committee. After the committee was elected in November last year, the area MP Prince Maele - a known supporter of Venson-Moitoi – lodged a protest with the central committee to challenge the results citing election irregularities.
However, on 4th March party Secretary General Mpho Balopi wrote to Tswapong North branch committee dismissing Maele’s appeal. Following the weekend Serowe South branch committee elections, Venson-Moitoi posted on Facebook playing down the effect of the election outcome. “It would not be the first time that Serowe South branch has not supported me.
But all who follow the politics of the constituency will know that their failure to support me has never been a hindrance to what I aspire. There are 56 constituencies out there and that counts,’’ she said. The other constituencies that elected delegates not aligned to Venson-Moitioi include the three Francistown constituencies- Mmadinare, Serowe North East and Tswapong South.
An insider within the BDP said Venson-Moitoi’s undoing lies in the fact that she entered the election race very late. Guma on the other hand started campaigning last year during which time he approached a number of people soliciting their support.
“It would appear the minister’s approach has been a casual one while Guma was strategic. He has long been campaigning in Venson-Moitoi’s constituency and mainly targeted the councillors whose votes count,” said the source. Venson Moitoi publicly declared her interest to contest in February this year.