The increasingly untenable and precarious position of Vice President Mompati Merafhe was further highlighted this past week when he was forced out of a BDP Central Committee meeting.
Merafhe left the meeting after some ruling party top members voiced concern over a possible conflict of interest on one of the agenda items.
Mompati Merafhe is Member of Parliament for Mahalapye West, and the ruling party Central Committee was discussing the fate of four Mahalapye councilors that had been vetted out by the constituency branch.
In a surprise twist, some Central Committee members, including a few from Merafhe’s faction, vehemently argued that it was unfair and against natural justice for Merafhe to sit in the Central Committee when it was common knowledge that he had been part of a decision by the party’s lower branch to vet out the said four councilors.
It was to be a further slap in the face for Merafhe as the Central Committee reversed the constituency decision and allowed the four councilors immediately after he walked out of the door.
The councilors will now be allowed to participate in the primaries.
It is feared that the councilors form the core of a lobby in Mahalapye to get rid of Merafhe who faces a stiff challenge from Bernard Bolele, a Gaborone-based lawyer, and Modise Malaakgosi, a former District Commissioner.
Merafhe’s precarious position has not been helped by an announcement by President Ian Khama when he told the BDP caucus that Merafhe will be Vice President only for a limited term of Khama’s ten year presidential duration. This has effectively rendered Merafhe a lame duck.
BDP watchers also point out that some senior members of Merafhe’s faction have since deserted him after they discovered that the trade off from which he benefited has not helped the faction in any substantial measure.
“In any case, Merafhe would be the last to complain that a person of his seniority is being challenged given that he was the first person to challenge the late Peter Mmusi for BDP Chairmanship when Mmusi was a sitting President,” said a BDP insider.
Tribal politics are also at play.
Undercurrents indicate a deep-seated and growing resentment against Merafhe, who hails from Serowe but who has been MP for Mahalapye for close to 20 years now.
As part of the BDP factional trade off, Ian Khama appointed Merafhe Vice President while Daniel Kwelagobe was made BDP National Chairman.
Kwelagobe and Merafhe lead two warring factions inside the BDP.