Monday, September 28, 2020

Growing power of urban socialites inside the BDP rattles traditionalists

Two prominent Gaborone socialites, Phuma Mathware and Thapelo Letsholo have become the latest to throw their names into the ring in preparations for the oncoming ruling party primary elections.

Mathware is challenging Kgotla Autlwetse in Serowe North while Letsholo is taking on Patrick Ralotsia in Kanye North.

Both Ralotsia and Autlwetse serve in cabinet.

Ralotsia is Minister of Agriculture, while Autlwetse is an Assistant Minister for Education.

While Mathware has a long history of activism inside the Botswana Democratic Party, Thapelo Letsholo has no previous political party experience having spent his professional life as a marketing and strategy executive ÔÇô first at Kgalagadi Breweries and then Debswana Diamond Company before opening his own marketing agency.

Mathware is primarily a construction industrialist having made his money as a Quantity Surveyor.

He has also been involved with football administration at national leadership levels.

Inside the BDP Mathware has served in various sub-Committees of the Central Committee including the Labour Sub-Committee.

At a corporate level he has served in various Boards of Parastatals including CEDA (Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency) and Botswana Couriers, among others.

Autlwetse will not be an easy push-over.

In the last General Elections he made history by defeating Ndelu Seretse, a senior member of the Ngwato Royal house in the BDP primary elections.

Autlwetse then went on to garner the largest number of votes for all those who were contesting the 2014 General Elections.

The rise of apolitical socialites with close connections to the business elite has not been without critics inside the BDP.

There are voices inside the party who feel that the party has turned itself into a purchasable commodity ready to be bought by the highest bidders.

This is because other than the bags of money, the latest rush into the party by the cosmopolitan personalities does not promise to do much in restoring the party to its rural traditional base that has ensured victory over the years.

Well-known members of such a class include current Secretary General, Mpho Balopi and the chair of the party’s publicity sub-committee, Thapelo Pabalinga.

“This trend started a few years ago but looks set to grow under Masisi who made a lot of money from this same class of people,” said one disgruntled BDP veteran.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.