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Guma Moyo: BDP’s new power behind the throne

Publishing Date : 17 September, 2017


During his golden days, Daniel Kwelagobe used to be the man making political careers inside the BDP. His influence was so strong that he, through the network of supporters in the party structures, would literally decide who made it to the party Central Committee every two years. Today, the throne is held by the Tati East legislator Samsom Guma Moyo.  Since 2009, every candidate he backed for party elections has wonWRITES ALFRED MASOKOLA.

Last weekend at the Tonota Congress, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his lieutenants effortlessly walked in to the BDP’s highest governing structure, thanks to the mobilisation skills of none other than the Tati East legislator, Guma.

For almost a decade now, Guma’s political life has always been defined by twists and intrigues. He happens to be part of the famous group of dissidents who went on to found the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) at the height of factional infightings in the BDP. Guma was the victim of President Ian Khama’s purging following the infamous 2009 BDP Kanye Congress.

“He is a strategist. Very effective and leads from the front. When he believes in a cause he goes all the way,” hinted one of his former allies. In the build-up to the Kanye Congress, Guma found himself fighting President Ian Khama. He belonged to the then Barataphathi faction which was rooting for Daniel Kwelagobe and Gomolemo Motswaledi as Chairman and Secretary General respectively. Meanwhile, President Khama had gone all the way to persuade democrats to elect only women in the central committee.  It was Guma and his team who strolled to victory, winning all the position but one. Guma was elected additional member.

Before that, his relationship with Khama was complicated by the latter’s decision to drop him from cabinet as Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning  following allegations of corruption, a decision that Khama would later publicly admit he regrets.

Following the 5 year banishment of Motswaledi from the BDP, Guma met with fellow Barataphathi factionalist to decide to form a break away party.  BMD quickly became the fastest growing political party, but soon, Guma got disgruntled. BMD did not offer what he had wanted. Like many, he retraced his steps to BDP and was welcome in to the party in 2012 at the party’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

A year later, Guma, in an expected outcome, won the BDP chairmanship against party veteran, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi Maun Congress in 2013. Many expected Vensoi-Moitoi to win, largely because Guma’s association with BMD would hurt his chances. Against all the odds, Guma proved his mantle, as his team which included fellow business associates Mpho Balopi and Thapelo Olopeng.

Guma’s chairmanship reign however was short-lived as he was forced to resign a few months into the position following the controversial 2013 party primary elections. It was reported that Guma and his team had tried to circumvent the succession plan by influencing the outcome of the primary elections. To date, the details of what happened between Khama and Guma, which led to the latter’s resignation remain a closely guarded secret.

In 2015, Guma reportedly cajoled Mokgweetsi Masisi to run for the chairmanship at Mmadinare Congress. Since his arrival in the party, Masisi had no interest in participating in central committee elections. Although he was Presidential Affairs and Public Administration minister, he was then considered a light weight and had no influence on party structures.  This perception changed when Masisi was appointed Vice President, and suddenly inherited influence.

With Guma on his side, Masisi decided to take a shot at the party chairmanship. The position has been generally associated with the Vice Presidency since the days of Peter Mmusi. Masisi won, though with an unconvincing margin.

This year, ahead of the Tonota Congress, Guma and his team ran a well-oiled campaign; from financial resources to deploying troops on the ground to harness support in party structures. Even for Nonofho Molefhi who enjoyed an amazing level of good will from democrats at the party National Council in April, there was a shift by the time congress drew nearer, with Masisi clearly headed for a landslide victory.

To retain the chairmanship Masisi garnered 769 votes compared to Molefhi’s 261 votes, and all his lieutenants ceremoniously walked into the central committee. Mpho Balopi defeated incumbent Botsalo Ntuane for the secretary general position; Satar Dada extended his 22 year stay in the BDP central committee, defeating Tebelelo Seretse for the Treasurer position, while Jagdish Shah and Shaw Kgathi also defended their positions.



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