The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) goes for its elective congress in Tsabong this weekend, the first such gathering since President Mokgweetsi Masisi ascended to power in 2018.
Marred by infighting and a growing sense of mistrust ever since former President quit to form Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) prior to the last general elections, the BDP’s political pluralism is expected to be tested to the limit.
Masisi’s favoured candidate, his Vice President (VP), Slumber Tsogwane, is up against an opposing faction led by seasoned campaigner and former minister, Nonofo Molefhi.
With both teams going all out for victory, fireworks are expected.
The Voice’s FRANCINAH BAAITSE caught up with North West Regional Chairman, Reaboka Mbulawa to get his views on Tsogwane’s chances and what it would mean for the country should he lose the Chairmanship.
The party is going for congress and in preparation for that, delegates have been appointed – did everything go smoothly in your region?
All went well. We have nominated the delegates and we are ready to go and vote our team.
In North West we have all agreed to vote for V.P and everyone in his team.
I hear Molefhi was present but was not allowed to address other democrats in Ngami. Why?
That was not the case! He came while elections were already in progress and we finished late.
However, by the time the delegates were given the chance to speak he was not in.
In Maun East he did arrive on time. He was given an opportunity to speak but unfortunately he attacked his opponent and I had to speak after him and rubbished his speech because that is not how we do things in our party.
I made it clear that we have already given our delegates mandate and that is to vote for V.P and his team.
Secondly, we had already agreed and promised the V.P support; we want to give the party leadership a central committee that will cooperate and work well with them.
And you don’t feel Molefhi’s team can do this?
The other team has demonstrated that they cannot work with President Masisi. For example, Unity Dow left Masisi’s cabinet because she was unhappy and unable to continue working under Masisi.
So why do we have to trust that at central committee level she will be able to work with him!
Equally we know that Molefhi has been in ‘political romance’ with BPF so we don’t know what caused him to somersault and want to work with the President, does he want to mess things up for us?
It appears there is a lot of mistrust within the party?
You cannot trust people who have lost trust between each other to work together.
If Molefhi’s team emerge victorious at the congress, what happens in terms of government positions?
First things first, they cannot win! It is not only our region that supports V.P but all regions; all regional Chairpersons are behind him and we talk and we know what we are doing. Of course we are in a democracy where majority rules.
But what we are saying is that we cannot be led by people who do not trust each other. It would be a problem for all party structures and that will spell doom for the party.
V.P assists HE (President) at government enclave so if he does not sit in the central committee, then it will be a disaster.
They would be a vacuum between Domkrag and government enclave and as a result slow implementation of our party manifesto.
Why not create VP position at party level?
That position is unnecessary because for the last 60 years or so that we have been running the party without it, there were no problems at all.
This is an unwritten rule but we know party Chairperson has to be the V.P.
We cannot have a ceremonial position, we want people to elect their leaders.
So we are saying Tsogwane has to be allowed to enjoy the Chairman position just like other previous V.Ps.
What powers comes with the Chairman position?
He oversees all party structures. That gives him power of control over the whole party and that is why we do not want to have two centres of power: V.P at government enclave and Chairman at party level.
Of course it once happened during Daniel Kwelagobe’s time, that a Chairman was not a sitting V.P but it was later corrected.
This is because a Chairman has power to call central committee meetings and therefore a President cannot take a chance of having somebody he does not trust at that level as he/she has the power to bring the President down through central committee.
A Chairman is basically a king maker.
Do you see BDP returning from Tsabong united?
Very much! Like I said, we have worked, democrats have spoken. By the way it is not the first time that Molefhi is challenging the V.P.
He did so in 2017 while Masisi was V.P and he knows what the results were and he is still going to be given the taste of the same medicine.
Molefhi’s lobby list is full of old guards, people who are resisting change whilst ours is a generation that is catching up with today’s evolving world; we cannot be going back with the likes of Mma Seretse and Shaw Kgathi.
They’ve had their time and unfortunately that time is gone.
They have to give the new generation a chance to lead.