Former Minister of Defence Justice, Defence and Security Ramadeluka Seretse has fended off alleged threats and intimidation by some senior members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who had suggested that he and other contenders should withdraw from the race in favour of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Some observers within the party feel that should Masisi lose, it would be an embarrassment to the office that he occupies.
Others also believe that it is not in the best interest of the party to challenge the Vice President of the party for such a position within the party. They contend that should Masisi lose it would leave the party bruised.
Other contenders for the position are former Botswana Ambassador to United States of America, Tebelelo Seretse, Tati West MP Biggie Butale, former Youth Wing chairman Dithapelo Tshotego, Seteng Motalaote and businessman Moemedi Dijeng.
On Monday Seretse said Masisi’s intension to join the race should be welcomed by BDP members and other contenders. He acknowledged that there are some BDP members who are of the view that his recent post on his Facebook page suggests “that I‘m troubled or threatened by the Vice President’s intentions to join the chairmanship race, that is wrong.”
He also denied as untrue reports that he had been approached by Masisi to withdraw from the race.
“No one has approached me to withdraw from the race as some media reports suggest. I don’t have a problem that the Vice President has entered the race. It is his democratic right to do so as I’m also entitled to do so,” he said.
Seretse added that it was inconceivable that Masisi could approach him and ask him to withdraw from the race.
“He can’t approach me because I’m not part of the delegates that will vote and I’m also not in the electoral committee,” said Seretse.
On comments made by some BDP members who suggested that the Office of the President and that of the Vice President should be respected, Seretse said he did not believe that was meant to intimidate him and other contenders.
“Besides I can’t be intimidated by someone exercising his democratic right. Some fringe benefits that come with the office that Vice President occupies shouldn’t be a big deal. Those who are lightweights like us should campaign very hard. It should be seen as an encouragement for us,” he said.┬á
He added that if Masisi’s team feels intimidated it shouldn’t blame anyone and should campaign with a sober mind.
The Facebook comment in question reads thus “I really do not understand why joining the race by the Hon. Vice President should cause so much concern to the extent that some would think other candidates should give way for him. Some prominent legislators have even suggested that the office of the Vice President must be respected, suggesting that not giving way for him is disrespectful.”
Seretse added that “Others have gone on to say they support his candidature because they support the President. Our President and Vice President, I respect and support you in your onerous task to take our Party and Government forward, hence my candidature. You will agree with me that you have quite a handful and you could do with more capable hands.”
“Fellow democrats,” added Seretse, “remember what the President said in one of his interviews with the Press, that the office of the Vice President is not a condition precedent for the office of Chairmanship of our Party and vice versa. Three doing the Job of three is certainly more efficient and productive than overburdening two with the Job of three.”