Thursday, April 25, 2024

Guma’s Election as BDP Chairperson was a ‘Mistake’

Recently, we published an article whose title was ‘Can Guma be Vice President?’ Clearly, we jumped the gun. With the benefit of retrospect, the title to the said article should have been “Can Guma Survive as Party Chairperson?’.

This is because, according to media reports, Guma, on 2ndDecember 2013, resigned as BDP chairperson as well a member of the Central Committee. President Khama is reported to have, on 3rd December 2013, accepted such resignation. Such swift acceptance of Guma’s resignation, without first persuading him to stay, confirms the allegations that President Khama had long wanted Guma to go. No wonder President Khama stripped Guma’s Central Committee of its powers and gave them to Parks Tafa’s Electoral Board. The question that ought to be asked is whether or not the BDP made a mistake by electing Guma as chairperson.

We submit that by electing Guma as chairperson the BDP wanted to give an impression that it provides equal opportunity for all; that every Motswana regardless of tribe, gender, territorial abode, etc. can attain any position in the party and by implication the government; and that it is a forgiving party and that even those who defect to the opposition can be welcomed and still rise to the echelons of power. It also wanted to use Guma’s acceptance to lure those who had, like Guma, defected to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). It also wanted to discredit the saying “Domi ke ya rona le bana ba rona” loosely translated to mean “the BDP is ours and our children’s”.

This, we posit, was a ‘mistake’. In terms of the BDP’s safely guarded tradition, certain party and government positions are a preserve of those from the central region; those of the Ngwato and related tribes; those from the military and those from the Khama and Seretse dynasty. Such political stalwarts as David Magang, Daniel Kwelagobe and Ponatshego Kedikilwe know this better. The latter lost his bid for the party chairpersonship and state Presidency to President Khama simply because he is neither a Khama or Seretse nor a MoNgwato nor a retired army general nor comes from the central region. His Honor Ponatshego Kedikilwe was only appointed Vice President after being tamed and abandoning his presidential ambitions and when Khama had little choice after Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe, a retired army general and a MoNgwato from the central district, resigned due to ill health.

In truth, the BDP regrets not electing the Minister of Education & Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, as chairperson instead of Guma. She has the most important attribute to satisfy the BDP tradition-she is a MoNgwato from the central region. Her only undoing may have been her gender and the perception that she has Vice Presidential ambitions. It is difficult to imagine that those in the BDP, including President Khama himself, doubt her academic prowess, political savvy and loyalty to the party and President Khama.

After realizing that it made a mistake by electing Guma as party chairperson, the BDP circulated propaganda that he had ambitions to be Vice President. Consequently, a plot was hatched for his ouster as party chairperson. Initially, the plan was to oust him at the party’s forthcoming special congress. Apparently, this changed since the plot thickened during the BDP’s primary elections, dubbed Bulela Ditswe, with allegations that, in an effort to position himself for the Vice Presidency, he, together with his Central Committee, manipulated the voter’s roll and got support from President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF to undermine President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s succession plan to position himself for the Vice Presidency.

So, if it is true that Guma has resigned as party chairperson and member of the Central Committee, he did not resign of his free will. He was pushed. After making history as the first person from a so-called minority tribe to become BDP party chairperson, he may have made history as the shortest serving BDP chairperson. Guma’s is a lesson to all that “Domi ke ya bone le bana ba bone”. It is a lesson learnt very well by his elders David Magang, Daniel Kwelagobe and Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

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