The factional wheeling and dealing within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party is said to have once again come to the fore ahead of the Monday central committee meeting, at which a replacement for deposed Secretary General Gomolemo Motswaledi will be sought while another member will be co-opted into the party’s most senior organ.
Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that the traditional barata-phathi and A-team factions, who have over the years battled for the control of the central committee, are once again engaged in clandestine meetings to try and influence the selection of one of their members into the central committee and the additional member posts.
Motswaledi was on Friday banished from the BDP for 5 years after a protracted brawl between him and party President Ian Khama, which was fought out at the country’s highest courts and culminated in a heated disciplinary committee hearing which decided that Motswaledi should be barred from taking part in party affairs for the next 5 years.
The disciplinary committee decided that Motswaledi’s actions to respond to a statement made by party lawyers were orchestrated to embarrass the BDP and Khama, especially since Motswaledi had no powers to speak on behalf of the party unless with permission from the Central Committee.
“We find that his conduct was selfish, misdirected and not in the best interest of the party; it has brought huge discredit to the party and would have affected its prospects in the general elections that have just ended,” said Masalila
The BDP central committee, which has been in limbo ever since the Khama-Motswaledi standoff, will be meeting for the first time after more than two months.
At the meeting the central committee will be faced with the mammoth task of deciding who will replace Motswaledi as secretary general, and who will be co-opted to fill the void that will be created by the ascension of one of the additional members to the position of deputy secretary general.
Wynter Mmolotsi, who was elected as deputy secretary general, has been acting secretary general after Motswaledi’s suspension.
While it is widely expected that Mmolotsi will take over the reigns as secretary general, there are those within the BDP who dismiss such a development as unlikely, especially since he (Mmolotsi) is a staunch barata-phathi man who, apart from fighting in Motswaledi’s corner, also openly defied Khama ahead of the Kanye congress.
It is not clear who among the central committee and the President holds more powers in replacing or co-opting members of the central committee.
Executive Secretary Comma Serema said on Friday that the President is part of the central committee, and will therefore be party to whatever decisions are made by the central committee.
But some have maintained that Khama will be within his rights to unilaterally co-opt or promote any party member to any position within the party, pointing to his recent unilateral appointment of central committee additional members and sub-committee members without consulting the elected central committee.
“No one can therefore predict the outcome of the central committee meeting, because the President might appoint his chosen member and leave Mmolotsi as the deputy secretary general,” they said.
Reports doing the rounds indicate that barata-phathi are lobbying for Mmolotsi to be promoted to secretary general and one of the additional members, either Guma Moyo or Thato Kwerepe, to be promoted to deputy secretary general, while Victor Motobake of Kgalagadi North is tipped to be co-opted as an additional member.
But Serema and Moyo were non-committal ahead of the Monday meeting, saying that they are not privy to any information as to who will be co-opted into the central committee.
“We would not want to talk about the issue as it is still in the pipeline,” they said.