Thursday, August 18, 2022

BDP slipping back into old factional mode

Like clockwork, the vehemently denied Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factions are rising from hibernation.

The re-awakening of factions comes on the eve of primary elections and the Party’s National Congress – both to be held next year.

Though contenders for primary elections are not yet all out in the open, the battle lines have already been drawn. And the encounters promise to be bruising as seen in Tonota South where incumbent Member of Parliament is fighting a spirited fight to put the challenge from Thapelo Olopeng at bay.

In Tswapong, current minister of Trade, Dorcas Malesu, has been reported by incumbent MP, Oreeditse Molebatsi, for meddling in the constituency.

The battle lines are not only confined to national politics.

At party level, Serowe South Legislator Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is eyeing the Chairperson’s seat.
She is likely to face a challenge from Tati East Legislator Moyo Guma, formerly of the Botswana Movement for Democracy.

The incumbent Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, could also find himself locking horns with Bernard Bolele, the Mahapye West parliamentary by-election candidate.

Both Venson-Moitoi and Bolele are believed to be under close influence and tutelage of the incumbent Chairperson Daniel Kwelagobe who has announced that he will not seek re-election.
Guma and Balopi are still to be defined as is Jacob Nkate who has also shown keen interest in the position of Chairmanship.

There is a remote possibility that Balopi could try his hand at the position of Party Treasurer, which has been the exclusive domain of party financier, Satar Dada, for years.

As it is, the unfolding drama has caused an evident rift between Balopi and the BDP Executive Secretary, Thabo Masalila.

Rightly or wrongly, Masalila, who reports to Balopi, has been accused of rooting for Barataphathi, the remnants of a faction that used to be dominated by Kwelagobe – a suspicion that has led others to prod Balopi for his expulsion from the Executive Secretary position.

A BDP insider has told SUNDAY STANDARD that Balopi’s camp sees Masalila as a serious obstacle to their ambitions.

All sorts of trumped up charges have been cooked up, including accusing him of sabotaging efforts by the Youth Wing.

“As a matter of fact, the BDP Youth Wing Chairperson intends to write a letter of complaint to the Central Committee complaining about Masalila’s reluctance to help them with their proceedings as a committee,” said the BDP insider.

While Masalila reports directly to Balopi, it is said that the Executive Secretary’s detractors have accused him of consorting with Kwelagobe’s camp by way of bypassing the Secretary General and going straight to the National Chairman on matters pertaining to the secretariat.

“It is an open secret that on a number of occasions, Masalila has dealt directly with the Chairperson and the President on matters concerning the secretariat. This has not gone down well with the Secretary General and his backers.”

Interestingly, Masalila was roped into the BDP Secretariat by Balopi.

For a time, the two were on one side until a fallout during the youth congress, which forced Masalila to switch sides.


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