Botswana Democratic Party members are reportedly up in arms over President Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s campaign, which they say is skewed towards members of the Merafhe-Nkate faction, while barata-phathi candidates are left to fend for themselves. As the BDP mascot, Khama has been on a trailblazing campaign around the country, hosting star rallies in a number of constituencies to boost the BDP’s prospects ahead of the Friday general elections.
However, there is a groundswell of discontent among some democrats who feel that the president’s campaign has only benefited A-team candidates, especially after the infamous central committee elections at the Kanye congress, where his anointed candidates were soundly trounced in the struggle for the control of the BDP.
Khama’s most recent kgotla meetings and star rallies were in Kanye, Ngami, Bobirwa, Francistown East and Selibe Phikwe. All these constituencies are manned by staunch A-team lieutenants in the form of Kentse Rammidi, Jacob Nkate, Shaw Kgathi, Phandu Skelemani and Kavis Kario, respectively.
It is this coterie of A-team foot-soldiers who have been marshalling the Khama attack in the struggle for the control of the BDP, some even ceding their central committee positions without a squeak to allow the president to assemble an unassailable arsenal against the barata-phathi.
But there is a general consensus that the A-team candidates, especially Nkate and Kgathi, will not make it back to parliament through the popular vote as the opposition Botswana Congress Party is set to tip the scales against them on Friday. It is for this reason, Khama’s defendants argue, that the president has been concentrating his affections on their constituencies.
But barata-phathi argue that, while the president’s efforts are noble, they are laced with malice, especially since the president has never extended such affections to other marginal constituencies like Gaborone West South and Francistown South, where barata-phathi lieutenants Wynter Molotsi and Botsalo Ntuane are struggling to parry opposition attacks.
“If the president’s campaigns were impartial, he would have long visited other constituencies. We only saw him in Gaborone Central on Sunday after he had effectively ousted Gomolemo Motswaledi and appointed his preferred candidate. Why has he never visited Francistown South where Wynter Mmolotsi is facing a combined attack from fellow democrats and BCP’s Vain Mamela?” they asked.
A senior member of the BDP Secretariat said on Monday that the president gives priority to marginal constituencies, and also visits others on request. He also said that the president is not the only one at the helm of the BDP campaign as he is also assisted by the party leadership.
“That is why the party chairman visited constituencies like Francistown South.” He said.
Political analyst and UB lecturer Dr. Bashi Mothusi concurs, saying that the recent trend indeed shows that Khama has been concentrating on A-team held constituencies.
“The factional fights within the BDP are not yet over. Khama is still looking to ensure that his A-team lieutenants return to parliament so that they can assist him to neutralize barata-phathi” he said.
He added that the recent refusal by parliament to endorse a motion meant to increase the number of specially elected MP’s from 4 to 8 has compounded the president’s problems.
“Most of Khama’s right hand men will most probably not make it back to parliament. Should that happen, he will find himself a very lonely man in parliament, as barata-phathi and the opposition will join forces to block cabinet supremacy and drive for constitutional amendments, especially section 41(1) and automatic succession” he said.
To that end, said Dr. Mothusi, it is imperative that Khama works hard to ensure that a few of his lieutenants return to parliament so that they can help him overcome the opposition-barata-phathi onslaught.
For his part BCP Secretary General Taolo Lucas said that parliament’s recent refusal to increase the number of specially elected MP’s to 8 has pushed Khama against the wall as he will have limited special nomination seats with which to award his loyal A-team foot-soldiers ,most of whom are tipped to tumble in the October 16 general elections.
“These people have been loyal to Khama in his standoff against Kwelagobe and the barata-phathi and he is now bound to boost their campaigns lest they find themselves jobless after the general elections” he said.