The race for central committee positions in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will go down to the wire as it will pit party heavyweights against each other. Reports indicate that BDP strongman Daniel Kwelagobe has thrown his weight behind Botsalo Ntuane while his challenger for the position of Secretary General, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri enjoys the backing of businessman Samson Guma Moyo. Meanwhile, Tshekedi Khama has reportedly withdrawn his candidature for the BDP Chairmanship to throw his weight behind his cousin, Ramadeluka Seretse.
BDP insiders have revealed that Matlhabaphiri will be a running mate to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is expected to declare his candidature anytime soon. The two are said to enjoy the backing of businessman Guma Moyo, who is looking to realign his forces after a humiliating defeat at the BDP Women’s Wing congress, where his preferred candidate, Tshepo Wareus was trounced by Dorcus Makgato.
Reports indicate that Moyo prevailed over Masisi to stand after Tshekedi Khama pulled out of the race.
“With Tshekedi’s out of the picture, Masisi fancies his chances against Ndelu Seretse and Tebelelo Seretse. He is also hoping President Khama will endorse him because he is Vice President,” said a source within the BDP.
Other than Matlhabaphiri, there are no other known candidates in Masisi’s lobby list. While there are other contenders for the position of Secretary General, the real race will be between Ntuane and Matlhabaphiri, as the incumbent, Mpho Balopi has indicated that he will not seek re-election. Previously reluctant to confirm his candidacy, Ntuane reportedly went public after receiving the blessings of President Khama and his political godfather, Daniel Kwelagobe.
The Telegraph is informed that Kwelagobe sent a delegation to meet Matlhabaphiri over the weekend to inquire if rumours that he wants to contest against Ntuane are true.
“Kwelagobe told us to tell Matlhabaphiri that he will not support him if he stands against Ntuane,” said a source who was part of the delegation.
However, Matlhabaphiri is reportedly content with Guma’s backing. He also masterminded a tour of BDP structures in Molepolole by President Khama over the weekend in a move that many believe was meant to prop up his campaign.
Contacted for a comment on Friday and Monday, Matlhabaphiri refused not to confirm his candidature, saying he was still in a meeting.
“I’m in a meeting. I will get back to you after the meeting,” he said.