By Thobo Motlhoka
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s new presidential hopeful Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign could not have taken off to a worse start with the party’s Women’s Wing and the Youth League putting their weight behind incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Speaking at a press conference organised by the party this week National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) Chairman Simon Moabi and Women’s Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato expressed resolutions taken by their respective constituents seeking to endorse Masisi for BDP and Botswana presidency.
“The women of the Botswana Democratic Party met in Mogoditshane on November 30th where they took a collective resolution to stand behind President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi as our presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections,” Makgato announced.
The women, Makgato said, were of the view that any decision that does not seek to protect the party president would not be in the best interests of the party. “As a result we agreed to endorse Masisi for an uninterrupted 10 year tenure as president of the BDP and Botswana. Our president our pride #2018.”
While Venson-Moitoi has premised her decision to contest the presidency partly on women empowerment Makgato said that would not have any bearing on the Women’s Wing’s decision to stand by Masisi.
“The current developments involving Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to challenge Masisi do not change the resolution taken by BDP women. The reasons we advanced at the general assembly in Mogoditshane for standing behind Masisi have not changed. It is not about women empowerment. We cannot break away from the resolutions taken by the BDP women from across the country. That is not how democracy works.”
NYEC Chairman Moabi also expressed the youth league’s position saying as young democrats they have resolved to stand behind the current president.
BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi confirmed receipt of Venson-Moitoi’s letter of intent. “Our constitution gives all members the liberty to contest. When we go for congress regions are expected to give the party’s Secretary General their nominations at least 24 hours before the congress,” he said. “Any individual who also wishes to contest can do so within the stipulated time frame and Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has done just that.”
Balopi said while individuals are at liberty to contest for positions within the party it remains the prerogative of the party membership to select their preferred candidate as evidenced by the NYEC and the Women’s Wing’s collective decisions to stand behind Masisi.
Venson-Moitoi received an avalanche of criticism following the announcement, with some accusing her of being used as a pawn in the fight between Masisi and his predecessor Ian Khama. “I have received a lot of calls from some party members criticising my decision to challenge Masisi,” she said in an interview with local media. Meanwhile the case in which Kamal Jacobs is challenging Masisi’s legitimacy as BDP President began at the Gaborone High Court on Friday with the Attorney General’s Chambers’ application for an order to appear as amicus curiae (friend of the court). The case will resume this coming week.