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Home » News » Politics » Masisi backers divided over lobby list

Masisi backers divided over lobby list

Publishing Date : 31 May, 2017

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s supporters are breaking ranks with each other in the build up to the crucial Tonota Congress, as the country’s number two is advised to rise above emerging factions in the party.

 

Masisi is guaranteed succession to the presidency at the beginning of April next year when President Lt Gen. Ian Khama’s term comes to an end. However insiders have revealed that some of his supporters have advised Masisi to stay above party factions if he is to lead a united Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to the 2019 general elections.

 

“It is not prudent for Masisi to be seen as factional leader on the eve of his ascendancy. Is he saying he will lead only part of the party that back him?” an insider revealed. A section of Masisi’s supporters have contended that as incoming president, he does not necessarily need a lobby list owing to the enmity that may ensue within the party after congress, even if his camp strolls to victory in Tonota.

 

There has been a rift between Masisi supporters because some are feeling sidelined while some are worried that the party chairman is being used to create divisions that will be difficult to heal afterwards.

 

Another ally of Masisi, Albert Mbayi has declared that he will contest the position of party deputy treasurer, this is despite the fact that Jagdish Shah, who also belongs to the Masisi camp is contesting for the same position.

 

A few weeks ago, the BDP Treasurer had tried to persuade his allies in the Masisi camp to accept former cabinet minister Jacob Nkate back in the faction but his efforts were futile. Masisi is said to prefer Mpho Balopi over the former Botswana ambassador to Japan. According to sources, Masisi does not want Nkate back on the basis that he has presidential ambitions.

 

Nkate this week confirmed that he will contest as secretary general but not under any lobby list. Dada and Nkate were Central Committee colleagues for a long time before the latter left active politics in 2009. This publication understands that Dada believes Nkate’s availability in Masisi’s camp brought a necessary dimension because of Nkate’s experience, both in cabinet and the central committee. 

 

Meanwhile on the other side, onetime BDP chairman, Guma Moyo prefers the incumbent Botsalo Ntuane for the position of the secretary general. Ntuane however has never been Masisi’s blue-eyed boy despite the former having been willing to work for him.

 

Not long ago, Ntuane offered to step down from the secretary general position to make way for Nonofho Molefhi if a compromise was reached to allow Masisi to retain the chairmanship unchallenged. The proposal has since been rejected by both parties.

 

Ntuane has also re-affirmed this week that he will be defending the position of the secretary general after reports indicated that he was bowing out. He also stated that he will not be contesting under any lobby list. 

 

With only two months left before the July congress, Masisi’s lobby list has not been stable and it’s splitting his allies. Masisi’s decision to lead one faction creates a future problem post congress, even if he wins. The pro-Molefhi MPs are feared to be readying to give him a tough time in endorsing his choice for the vice presidency next year. 

 

Meanwhile, President Ian Khama has detached himself from the current affairs preferring to keep his cool and allowing Masisi to fight his own wars.  However, prior to his departure in 2007, President Festus Mogae tried to unite the party when factionalism was proving to be a troublesome issue. Back then, Mogae re-appointed Daniel Kwelagobe and Ponatshego Kedikilwe back to cabinet in a move seen as neutralising the then A-Team dominated cabinet.

 

Although Khama has publicly declared his support for Masisi he has done little to try to strike a compromise deal that will see him sailing through the presidency with little difficulty. Khama has forever preached for a compromise at the party National Council. Masisi is facing stern competition from Molefhi who is running for the position of the chairmanship. Molefhi is said to be ultimately eyeing the party presidency in 2019.

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