Sunday, October 1, 2023

Dissent, BDP factional disputes play out ahead of Guma-Merafhe launch

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party is expected to head for a do or die show-down this weekend as the factional disputes that have torn the party asunder come to the fore in what is widely dubbed the prelude to the July congress.

Nkate-Merafhe’s A-team and KedikilweÔÇôKwelagobe’s Barata Phathi are expected to each gauge their strengths ahead of the July congress this weekend during the launch of Vice President Mompati Merafhe and Tati East MP Guma Moyo. It would have been an epic battle of magnanimous proportions had the two launches coincided on Saturday, but reports indicate that President Ian Khama robbed Batswana of an interesting double feature when he prevailed upon Guma Moyo to postpone his launch to Sunday.

However, analysts maintain that the guest list of the two launches, and the comparative turn out of democrats at the launches will give Batswana a sneak preview as to who will wrestle control of the BDP at the Kanye congress.

President Ian Khama is said to have prevailed upon Guma Moyo to move his launch to Sunday in order to avoid a potentially explosive situation that would have seen Guma and Merafhe, both power brokers in their respective factions, being launched on the same day. As it is, party chairman Daniel Kwelagobe, together with a plethora of barata phathi head honchos, are due to grace Guma’s launch while President Ian Khama and some A-team power players are expected to flock to the vice president’s launch.

Key speakers that are expected at the barata phathi include the outspoken Botsalo Ntuane, Secretary General aspirant Gomolemo Motswaledi, Wynter Molotsi and Kagiso Mmusi. Molotsi and Mmusi are vying for the position of deputy secretary general and deputy treasurer respectively.

Moyo revealed to The Sunday Standard last week that they will host a high profile fundraising gala on Saturday at the luxurious Adansonia Hotel, featuring renowned South African poet and musician Mzhwakhe Mbuli to raise money for their campaign. “It is critical that we raise money and awareness for this campaign. This is the work of serious democrats,” he said.

Motswaledi, who has been in Francistown preparing for the launch for most of last week, told The Sunday Standard on Friday that their preparations are progressing smoothly and they expect to raise a lot of money during Saturday night’s gala. The Gaborone Central parliamentary candidate and BDP Secretary General aspirant was seen having lunch with Mzwakhe Mbukli on Friday.

Guma also made a surprise announcement that Vice President Mompati Merafhe has also confirmed that he will be at Moyo’s launch on Sunday, a move that many read as a conciliatory overture that is meant to coerce the barata phathi faction into succumbing to the A-team’s proposals for a compromise ahead of the July congress.

But, at constituency level, Guma’s launch is not without its problems as the disgruntlement that was bred by the bulela ditswe primary elections continues to dog the ruling BDP.
Earlier this year, three councilors from Guma’s Tati East constituency, Savvy Toitoi of Siviya, Todd Maligan of Tsamaya and Obert Takobana of Ramokgweba, dropped a bombshell when they announced that they will be standing as independent candidates.

The councilors said that the branch committee did not heed their protests when they complained about gross irregularities in the party primary elections which they claim were riddled with voter trafficking, vote rigging and, at times, blatant favouritism. The disaffected party members decided to stand as independent candidates in protest against the party leadership‘s failure to address their concerns. They also complained that they were casualties of the ruling BDP’s factional disputes as they were sidelined and victimized by the branch committee. Allegations are that the trio backed the wrong horse in the duel between MP Guma Moyo and Chapson Butale and found themselves on the wrong side of the court when the dust settled.

Earlier this year, the councilors introduced themselves as independent candidates at a workshop organized by the Independent Electoral Commission in Francistown at which senior party members were present. The Francistown region would that very weekend convene an ad-hoc meeting and later make recommendations to the central committee, after which the central committee warned the dissidents to return to the party fold or risk being expelled.


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