President Ian Khama is reported to have prevailed over his deputy who is also ruling party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi to stop addressing weekly press conferences where new members are welcomed into the fold of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
The press conferences had become a source of division between Masisi and BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane who felt the Chairman was intruding into his line of duty.
The Telegraph has learnt that the latest development is part of Khama’s effort to help broker a rare truce within the BDP. Reports recently indicated that Ntuane and Masisi were not seeing eye to eye.
The alleged acrimonious relationship between Ntuane and Masisi who is also the BDP’s Chairman came to the fore when the latter welcomed new members and recruits to the BDP at press conferences.
Ntuane was not invited. Instead the party Publicity Committee, which is populated by Masisi sympathisers was gleefully made to take centre stage.
While the two men have since denied that there is a ‘rift’ between them sources within the party said Khama and some elders of the party intervened and asked Masisi to allow Ntuane to welcome new members to the party, in particular, new recruits.
At one point Masisi told journalists at a press conference that Ntaune did not address the press briefing where the party welcomed members from the opposition due to an illness, a claim that was denied by sources within the party.
This publication has since observed that recently Ntuane has taken to addressing the press conferences and welcoming new members.
In an interview this week, Deputy Secretary General of the BDP Shaw Kgathi denied that Khama and party elders have since reigned in Masisi and advised him to desist from addressing press conferences to welcome new members. Kgathi also insisted that the relationship between Masisi and Ntaune has been a cordial one.
“Masisi is the chairman of the party and as the chairman of the party, there are powers vested in him. He can decide to welcome new members and address the monthly Press Conferences as long as that does not disrupt his busy schedule. In the BDP central committee anyone can be asked to do that,” said Kgathi.
He reiterated that he is not aware of the alleged acrimonious relationship between his chairman and his secretary general.
“There is no rift within the BDP or its Chairman and Secretary that I know of,” he said.
News that Khama and some elders of the party have prevailed over Masisi from addressing press conferences to welcome new members come at a time when some members of the BDP are of the view that they are sidelined and new members are being given special treatment.
There are even claims that some members of the party’s Gaborone region did not attend a rally aimed at welcoming the party’s newly elected councilor for Sekoma Case Lebotso. The rally was held at Gaborone bus rank but Gaborone region Secretary Kingsley Kgomoyarona and Gaborone region Chairman of the Bontsi Monare among others were not in attendance.
“They did not attend the rally because they feel that recruits in particular from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) such as Lotty Manyepetsa and Thato Osupile are receiving special treatment from the party leadership. They are always selected as guest speakers at rallies,” said a concerned senior member of the party.
But Kgomoyarona denied that they decided to snub the rally saying due to some personal commitments they were unable to attend the rally.
He also defended the party’s decision to include Manyepetsa in the list of guest speakers saying he is an industrious politician who is working on wooing new recruits into the BDP, especially new members from the opposition.
If reports to prevail are true, that will come as a double blow to the Vice President who recently saw his flagship ESP (economic Stimulus Package) that he was coordinating being shuffled to a committee that is led by Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe.