Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Guma, Maele exit fuels ‘new party’ speculations

BY THOBO MOTLHOKA

The axing of Members of Parliament Samson Moyo Guma (Tati East) and Lerala-Maunatlala’s Prince Maele by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has fuelled speculation of formation of a new party by the party’s New Jerusalem faction, led by former President Ian Khama.

This week the Party announced the expulsion and suspension of Guma and Maele respectively for various offenses relating to bringing the party name into disrepute.

“Having considered both the gravity of the offence, the interest of the party, both in Lerala-Maunatlala and the party as a whole, the committee has come to the conclusion that the respondent should be suspended from the party and its activities forthwith, for a period of one year,” reads a letter from the disciplinary committee to Maele.

The letter says for the entire year of suspension Maele shall not represent or hold himself as a member of the BDP and must with immediate effect, surrender to the party headquarters all material belonging to the party in his possession.

The disciplinary actions taken against the two sitting and parliamentary candidates effectively rule them out of the 2019 General Elections unless they run as independents or members of a different party.

Both Maele and Guma are senior members of the New Jerusalem faction and were instrumental in Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s efforts to unseat Mokgweetsi Masisi as BDP President.

Although there have been efforts by Masisi, Party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, and Venson-Moitoi to call a truce between the two warring factions, the decision to axe Guma and Maele could be a reflection of failure to reach a consensus.

“We have had talks with Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and expectations are that she will go and consult with members of her team on the way forward,” Tsogwane told Sunday Standard recently.

While BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi had said the Central Committee had not received the news by the time of going to press, all indications are that the decision by the disciplinary committee will stay.

This then leaves the two MPs with three options: to not contest the General Elections, to contest as independents, or to contest under a different organisation.

Should the faction heed the advice by an international Consultancy Report prepared by Khama’s international sponsors, a new political party could be in the offing.

“Mr Khama to aid the formation of a new political party. Mr Khama cannot lead the party in case he is accused of plotting what one of the Botswana ministers, Unity Dow referred to as a Putin strategy to return to power,” reads part of the recommendations by Consultancy Report.  “But can a party formed after April with only 6 months to elections be organized and resourced in time for the elections? Will the new party be part of opposition coalition or go it alone? For the party to be of significant force it will have to rely on BDP members sympathetic to Mr Khama to make up the bulk of its leadership and rank and file.” The Report says the viability of a new party would have to be studied in more depth.

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