Kabo Morwaeng gets visibly excited when his mobile phone rings.
“You can leave all those arrangements to me. The security and accommodation logistics have been sorted out. What is important is for you to remember that you are one of the speakers on Sunday,” he waxes lyrical.
It is Friday afternoon and the energetic ruling party activist is frantically putting the finishing touches on preparations for the launch of Daniel Kwelagobe as a ruling party candidate for Molepolole South.
Not without reason, Kwelagobe’s launch has been magnified into an extraordinarily big affair inside the BDP.
Masterminded by Morwaeng himself, the event has been carefully and deliberately choreographed to offer a glimpse into the near future, shining some light on just how the BDP power dynamics are likely to play themselves out next month when delegates finally decide who they elect into the all powerful positions of the Central Committee.
Not known to hold back his opinions, it is perhaps a sign of strained relations inside the BDP that Morwaeng politely shrugs off all requests for an interview, preferring instead to produce an invitation card for the Sunday Standard crew to attend Kwelagobe’s launch.
Navigating the terrain inside the BDP has lately become a difficult if not risky and uncertain exercise that nobody knows for sure just how their comments in the media are likely to be received and interpreted by the other side.
“I have nothing against talking to the media but I have to be careful not to put myself into trouble,” he says as a matter of fact.
Morwaeng knows better.
He was recently dragged before a party disciplinary committee (later acquitted) to answer charges of putting the party into disrepute. This was after he had uttered uncharitable words about another democrat with whom he did not agree on postponing the BDP Central Committee elections.
But still he can barely conceal his joy at the fact that the person on the other end of the conversation is a woman who, as he puts it, is a Serowe based political.
The importance of this double symbolism (a woman and a Serowe activist) cannot be overstated.
Together with members of his faction, Morwaeng is still basking in the glory of a recent victory in Serowe where his charges were able to successfully deny Tebelelo Seretse a chance to be a candidate at next month’s Congress.
As a result of that victory Tebelelo Seretse, will not be able to even vote for herself at next month’s congress.
For Morwaeng’s faction, the victory, though materially small as to be insignificant, has been all the sweetest not just because it was administered against Seretse (a woman candidate daring to unseat Kwelagobe as BDP National Chairman), but also, perhaps more crucially, because it happened in Serowe, which is Seretse’s home territory.
Even more, Seretse happens to enjoy some conditional support from President Ian Khama, a man whose word in Serowe has hitherto been treated like the Gospel truth.
It is a setback from which a recovery will not be easy for Seretse.
An eminence grise of BDP’s factional politics, Morwaeng’s demeamour shows without him saying it that he relishes the simple fact that his bigger campaign for ultimate control of the BDP has been off to a good start – chipping at Seretse’s backyard in Serowe and denying her even an opportunity to cast a vote in her own favour.
While there is no doubt that at least from behind the scenes Kabo Morwaen is the brains supplying a crucial push in both logistics and strategy for the Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe faction, this is altogether surprising given that a few years ago he was doing exactly the same for the Merafhe/Nkate axis; first at Ghanzi and later on at Serowe.
With the July duel drawing closer and the two factions unrepentantly going for broke, Morwaeng’s wish to be a kingmaker who remained in the shadows has clearly become a futility.
Together with that of Botsalo Ntuane and Gomolemo Motswaledi, Morwaeng’s name frequently crops up on the lips of their nemesis on the Merafhe/Nkate side as the hard-line strategists who have spurned all efforts to broker a compromise and avert an all out intra-party warfare.
From early on when Raphael Dingalo called for a postponement of BDP Central Committee elections, Morwaeng publicly said Dr. Dingalo was out of order and called on the leadership to take action against the former academic for advocating a route that violated the party constitution.
To his dismay, Dingalo has been rewarded with a plum job in the Office of the President.
“Morwaeng is actually a hidden force behind what promises to be the fiercest and most poisonous warfare since the BDP was formed more than forty years ago,” says a critic from the opposing faction.
While many admirers speak of Morwaeng as a ferocious schemer of amazing skill and energy, critics warn that Kwelagobe should be careful because Morwaeng’s political career is dotted with more defeats and less victories.
Detractors also like to highlight a lack of enduring loyalty as chief among the man’s many abiding negative attributes that have frustrated what started off as a highly promising political career.
The same critics never fail to point out that the same Morwaeng who today hails Kwelagobe as a folk hero while disdaining President Ian Khama as a matter of principle is the same man who broke down in tears in Ghanzi under the heavy tears of joy after Khama trounced Ponatshego Kedikilwe for the position of BDP National Chairman, driving the womenfolk in the hall to join him with yet more flood of tears.
“Loyalty is not the kind of word you can expect to find in his vocabulary,” says another critic, who does not want to be named for fear of being seen to speak ill about another party member in public.
Those who claim to know Morwaeng say his support for Kwelagobe is informed by a twin-pronged purpose that instinctively drives him to serve Kwelagobe as a way of returning past favours. He is also said to harbour a deep-seated hatred that drives him to inflict maximum harm on the Merafhe/Nkate axis for the cold shoulder he received from them in the past when he offered himself to be a part of them.
As Kanye draws nearer and inner party relations get messier, BDP watchers are surprised as to be dismayed at how at times Morwaeng’s enthusiasm for Kwelagobe tends to surpass that of Ntuane; a long time sidekick and political godson of the BDP strongman.
For Morwaeng, the ongoing contest for the heart and soul of the BDP provides him with a payback opportunity to serve the man who facilitated a private scholarship for him to go and study in Lesotho a few years ago.
The BDP contest also provides him with an opportunity to mete out an atrocious punishment against the Merafhe/Nkate faction for refusing to accept and adopt him as an insider during the few years that he consorted with them.
“He has never forgiven us for refusing to accept him into our inner circle,” says the same critic.
However one looks at him, for Morwaeng this is a heady, watershed moment. For well over twenty years he has been trying without success to get into parliament, kept at bay by a cruel party wall that at times shamelessly shortchanged and sacrificed the winners in favour of losers.
The contest gives him an opportunity not only to atone for his past personal shortcomings as a politician but to deal with political descendants of those who have ruthlessly frustrated his political ambitions in the past.
“To this day, Morwaeng has not stopped mourning how the BDP treated him like a step child in the early nineties after he defeated Gladys Kokorwe in a Thamaga Constituency by-election contest only for the party to settle for Kokorwe,” says a BDP member.