Last Updated
Tuesday 25 November 2014, 14:26 pm.
BDP factional wars resurfacing?

FRANCISTOWN: A low-key factional war, which reportedly threatens to reverse the party's latest gains to eradicate fissures in its ranks, has erupted within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
By Staff Writer Wed 26 Nov 2014, 14:31 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BDP factional wars resurfacing?








At the centre of the party's traditional factional divide is the fight for the control of the party.  The party's A-Team, which has for a long time enjoyed control of both the party and government, is reportedly at it again and wants to annihilate the Barata-Phathi axis.

The resurgence of the BDP traditional factions has of late been taking many forms and shapes and this is done so discreetly that the uninitiated will not even suspect the developments.

In the current BDP Central Committee of 18 members, there are eight allegedly being targeted and the A-Team members have reportedly vowed to deal with them one-by-one until their mission is accomplished.

The potentially explosive political situation was not helped by the fact that post the BDP elective congress held in Mahalapye last July, some party leaders have not been pulling together with the party when it was least expected of them.

Top on the A-Team purging list is the party chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe, who has of late been exercising much of his 'democratic rights' than simply toeing the party line.  Kwelagobe ('DK' to his horde of supporters) has defied the party congress and caucus resolution relating to a motion tabled by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, on classifying some sections of the public service as essential services.

He has apparently not allowed his judgement to be clouded by "majority voices" by standing his ground in defence on democracy at the chagrin of his fellow party opponents.  It has since emerged that DK's actions or non-actions have incessantly rubbed some people the wrong way.

There are reports that some A-Team members have launched an all out war to get rid of Kwelagobe or at least to frustrate him so that he could voluntarily leave the BDP.

For his part, Kwelagobe does not see the re-emergence of factions at all and has pointed out that the party is winning the factional war.

"Factionalism has subsided in the BDP and as the leadership, we will continue battling to contain factions as much as possible," he said.

On threats that there were BDP members who were targeting him because of what he said in Parliament, Kwelagobe said, "I was merely quoting from the BDP 2009 general elections manifesto that I did not write."

He challenged anybody to go and familiarise themselves with the document and see if there was anything else he added.

"My contribution was the party position in so far as we have promised to deal with labour issues as the BDP government and it is not even my slightest personal opinion," emphasised Kwelagobe.

Next on the line is reportedly Satar Dada, who although a known neutral man as far as the BDP factions are concerned, is accused of attempting to "destabilise" the party this week after reportedly announcing that the party should review some of its expenditures. It's alleged that Dada had asked for prudence in the management of party funds so that the party coffers do not dry up.

Some people who felt that they were being attacked did not take to his move kindly. Some critics are reportedly fuming that reports that the BDP was broke have a potential of sowing seeds of confusion in the BDP when it was least expected.

As the party treasurer, Dada updates the party leadership and structures on the party's state of finances and encourages fund-raising as and when necessary.

In fact, some members of the BDP central committee reportedly chose to leak information that the BDP was "broke" deliberately so that the issue could spark controversy within the party structures.

Quizzed about the allegations, Dada said, "Those are party internal issues and it's none of your business.  We don't discuss party issues with outsiders."

Other central committee members associated with the reportedly disbanded Barata-Phathi faction and reportedly targeted by the A-Team members include deputy treasurer, Kagiso Mmusi, committee members Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Boikhutso Nshakazhogwe-Masunga, Neo Kealotswe, Machana Shamukuni and BDP National Youth chairman, Bontsi Monare.

Prior to the Mahalapye BDP national congress, BDF factions were seemingly agreeable that Monare, who seems grounded on the party policies, should succeed Comma Serema as the party executive secretary.  But things have now taken a new direction.

The A-Team has reportedly come up with a new candidate that they sell and that is, Thabo Fano Masalila.  This to a large extent depicts the growing rivalry between the party's two factions.

Other party members that have been interviewed for the vacant post include Lazarus Lekgoanyana, Monare, Anderson Mbaha and others.

The A-Team last Monday was able to widen its influence by appointing a new secretary general, Mpho Balopi and additional member Ponatshego Tshiping, who are both associated with the A-Team.

In so far as numbers are concerned, the A-Team has 10 members, whilst Barata-Phathi has seven, as Dada has always been the neutral one in the party.

A recent meeting of the BDP nominated councillors held at the Maharaja Conference Hall and sanctioned by the BDP central committee has also set tongues wagging in the BDP as it has turned out that only councillors associated with the A-Team attended it.

A local weekly newspaper recently reported that the Maharaja meeting was called by nominated councillors to come up with ways to help sitting councillors and parliamentarians to retain their seats in the next general elections.

It further reported that the meeting was meant, "to map a strategy on how the troubled ruling party can retain power in the next general elections".

Allegations are flying thick and fast that the nominated councillors' meeting was in fact a grouping of councillors associated with the A-Team who simply wanted to display their loyalty to the party leadership.

Quizzed about the factional machinations in the BDP, party acting executive secretary Lee Lesetedi could only say that as far as he was concerned factions have long disbanded and there is nothing suggesting that the factions are re-emerging.

"Of course, when differences emerge in the party, some people read a lot of things into them - some imaginary and some within the line of what is happening in the party," he said.

Lesetedi is of the view that BDP members associated with Barata-Phathi have long left the BDP to form BMD.
On the nominated councillors who held a meeting recently, he confirmed the party leadership sanctioned the meeting.

"Some invited people could not attend the meeting for various reasons and at the end of the day, it appeared to some party members that the meeting was attended by people from a particular faction when factions are no more in the BDP."

Lesetedi stated that as part of the BDP healing process, the party recently held its elections through a compromise list to avoid divisions associated with open elections.

"I would not even know that certain party operatives are targeted by some people or even the faction as you suggest. 

I can simply tell you that things seem to be going in the right direction in the BDP," said Lesetedi.He indicated that since the BDP is engaging vigorously in a membership recruitment drive, "We can't derail from the project of recruiting people by chasing them.  So, there is nothing like people targeting others here," he stressed.



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