A war of words between Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activists aligned to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane is threatening to open a can of worms on how funds could have been misused at the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).
The power struggle between Masisi who is BDP Chairman and Ntuane which has for quite some time been playing behind the scenes broke into the open this week as their ‘mercenaries’ defied the party’s culture of discussing matters internally and discussed burning issues on public platforms.
Former BNYC Chairman Louis Sibanda and former BDP candidate for the party’s post of treasurer Moemedi Baikalafi took to social media this week and locked horns on a number of issues with each politician claiming to have a lot of dirt on one another.
Sibanda criticised Ntuane for failing to live up to his political reform agenda.
Prior to the BDP congress in Mmadinare, Ntuane had compiled a document stating among others that the party must advocate for a strong activist Central Committee; this means recalibrating their relations with government and reclaiming the party authority over government.
Insiders this week claimed that the war of words between the two youthful politicians provides a peep show into how the BDP is divided as the countdown to April 2018 when President Ian Khama is expected to step down draws closer.
There are even claims that Sibanda who is aligned to Masisi’s faction is sponsored by the same faction to discredit Ntuane. Recently the BDP activist attacked a local publication for reporting that Masisi was hospitalised at a South African hospital and critical. He said Masisi “is well and fit.”
Sibanda, who is a close ally of Serowe North legislator Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, is seen as a contender to succeed her ÔÇô should she win the AU chairperson bid.
On the other hand, Baikalafi who is a self-confessed Ntuane ally did not take kindly to Sibanda’s call for introspection of the Secretary General’s office.
While contesting for the BDP treasury post Baikalafi told a local publication that he has worked with Ntuane for a number of years as strategist and think tank on issues of youth development. He threatened to spill the bins on Sibanda’s alleged clandestine dealings at BNYC. In fact he has posted on his wall that he would reveal the secrets using a complete timeline.
He warned Sibanda to desist from “tarnishing the good name of the BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane.”
But Sibanda hit back and warned that should Baikalafi go ahead with his threats he would expose how the BNYC bailed him out to the tune of $ 500 (about P50 000) while he was stranded in Ethiopia. He said some of the bad decisions he made at BNYC include ‘bailing out’ Baikalafi while he was stranded in Ethiopia.
Contacted for a comment, Ntuane declined to comment on the matter.
While he referred this publication to the BDP secretariat, Sibanda who said he was commenting on his own behalf, insisted that he was not aware of factions within the BDP and is not aligned to Masisi’s faction.
“I know VP to be the chairman of the party. I think its disrespectful to associate any faction, if at all it exists, that has intentions of toppling the SG, with the office of VP. I think the said faction is simply a figment of your imagination and as such a faction with intentions of toppling the SG does not exist in the BDP,” he said.
He added that Masisi and Ntuane are working hand in hand to marshal the party’s recruitment drive.
Asked why he decided to discuss the reform agenda on social media platform, Sibanda said “I honestly think we should embrace a culture of openness. I honestly feel that the BDP reform Agenda; 22 Discussion points was in the public domain.”
“The BDP has a culture of openness that is why over time there has been discussion about the VP, and even the President without anyone pointing a figure or suggesting that they are being toppled. We should have the same discussion about the reform agenda without fear or favour,” said Sibanda.
On the BNYC controversy, Sibanda said he will not be deterred from voicing concerns because “I have had an unsubstantiated accusation against myself.”
“The principle of law has always been simple, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I have been persecuted in the court of public opinion with absolute disregard of my rights. I leave it up to the media to continue with the accusation. I operate from a premise that the truth will finally come out,” said Sibanda.
Baikalafi told this publication that the “big war” is not between him and Sibanda but between the Masisi and Ntuane. He further confirmed that he is aligned to Ntuane’s faction while Sibanda on the other hand is linked to Masisi faction.
“Sibanda is only protecting the interest and pushing the agenda of the Vice President. Batswana have to understand that according to the Botswana Democratic Party constitution the secretary general is the head of secretariat. He is responsible for many things not limited only to recruitment drive and press conferences,” said Baikalafi.
He added that the secretary general is the back bone of the organisation.
“We are at crossroads. The Vice President also wants spotlight, and the issue peddled by Sibanda that the secretary general is incompetent is not true. Secretary General is competent.”
Baikalafi denied claims that Sibanda bailed him out while stranded in Ethiopia using taxpayers’ money.