The departure of Batlang Serema as ruling party Executive Secretary has thrown wide open the succession plan.
The party is already negotiating with a few names as possible replacements.
Serema will on Monday leave the BDP after six years of service to join the University of Botswana. Despite Serema’s insistence that he has not yet invited any applications, speculation is rife that there are some within the BDP who have already fingered his replacement.
In fact, the BDP’s Third Force, an elitist group that prides itself as not belonging to any faction and being very close to President Khama, is said to be lobbying Khama to appoint their preferred candidate.
“We know they have been secretly interviewing people without the knowledge of the party. We also know they have been lobbying for support from the President,” said a BDP insider.
One of the surprise front runners in the race is Lawrence Ookeditse, a teaching assistant at the University of Botswana, who is also a political analyst. Many within the BDP expected Lee Lesetedi, who has served as Serema’s secretary, to naturally walk into his shoes.
But it has emerged that some senior BDP members are lobbying for a complete overhaul of the BDP secretariat.
Serema’s departure emerged after Party Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe and Treasurer Satar Dada spearheaded the restructuring of the BDP Head Office.
The possible roping in of someone considered to be an outsider has rubbed some BDP members the wrong way.
“The people who are doing these are not central committee members. They just want to control the party from outside. Lesetedi deserves the position because he has served the party selflessly. Again, it will ensure continuity,” said a Lesetedi supporter.
Indications are that Serema and the central committee support Lesetedi. The Third Force, however, reckons an outsider will harness the party policy of doing away with factions.
As if to scuttle the big wigs’ plans, Serema on Thursday appointed Lesetedi as Acting Executive Secretary until his replacement is found. This heightened tension within the party, and indications are that the two BDP factions, barata phathi and the A-team, have also been drawn into the fray.
The A team wants one of their own to be given the influential post, especially after former Secretary General Thato Kwerepe was replaced by Kentse Rammidi.
The A team feels Rammidi is untrustworthy as he has been moving closer to Kwelagobe.
Serema’s departure is a loss to the A team. He has always been a loyal A team lieutenant who served well under Jacob Nkate and later under President Khama before the Kanye congress.
Lesetedi’s greatest undoing is that he is perceived as an A-team supporter. He has been Serema’s right hand man and long time aide.
The Third Force therefore feels an outsider will serve the BDP well. Ookeditse himself could not confirm or deny the allegations, saying he would rather the BDP comments on the issue.
“You are way ahead of me. I cannot comment on this issue. Speak to the BDP,” he said.
Questions have also been asked about Ookeditse’s neutrality when commenting on political issues.
“Ookeditse has been purporting to be a neutral and unbiased political analyst. If news of his appointment is true, then we take his past political comments with a pinch of salt. He would obviously want to put BDP in the limelight,” they said.
In response, Ookeditse maintained that he was fair and neutral in all of his political articles and comments.