President Mokgweetsi Masisi has made peace with the likely possibility that he may be challenged for the position of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) president at the party congress in July 2019, just two months ahead of general elections.
For the first time in the party’s history there is growing concern that a sitting president may have to contest for party leadership as opposed to the normal endorsement that has been central to the party’s stability since Independence.
Latest indications are that there is a significant section of the party that has grown frustrated under Masisi’s leadership particularly with regard to the President’s apparent broken relations with his immediate predecessor, Ian Khama.
Addressing the media at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Friday upon his return from Geneva, Switzerland Masisi did not seem averse to the likelihood of being challenged for party presidency.
“If the party feels they need a better candidate to lead us into the 2019 General Elections then great. We will win with even more numbers,” he told the media. “I’m not afraid. The Democrats will elect who becomes their president. It’s a process. It’s in our rules. We created it to be that way. Why should anyone be anxious about it? A sitting president such as myself may be challenged.”
While he was alive to the possibility of a challenger, Masisi also seemed to pin his hopes on the very history that looks set to be on trial come July 2019.
“The BDP is a big, dynamic organisation,” he said, “All manner of predictions have been made about it in the past. We have our own internal contests and at the end of it all we are going to come out victorious.” The BDP is expected to hold an elective congress next year where the Khama led faction is likely to field a candidate to face the incumbent president. The relationship between the two presidents seem to have deteriorated beyond repair owing to a number of executive decisions taken by Masisi that include firing two of Khama’s blue eyed boys in former Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Isaac Kgosi and the BDP’s Mogoditshane parliamentary candidate Tshepang Mabaila at government and party level respectively. Still at the press conference, President Masisi has also defended the frequency of his international visits saying they have no impact on his ability to run the country.
“There is no risk of the country crumbling because I am not there. I travel having made a very thorough analysis over the benefits of it and I also travel on advisement from the ministry (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) dedicated to advising me on all matters foreign.” He said the nation was always under the capable hands of Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. “Live has continued as usual in my absence. This is a democracy. A mature democracy.” Barely a week following his return from Geneva, Masisi is scheduled to leave for Mozambique in a few days for a state visit.