Mmegi Online :: The failed Khama magic
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Thursday 15 November 2018, 09:19 am.
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The failed Khama magic

While many had thought outgoing President, Ian Khama would do miracles for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) when he took over as both State and party president 10 years ago, the opposite is the truth.
By Tsaone Basimanebotlhe Fri 30 Mar 2018, 13:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The failed Khama magic








Khama was recruited into the ruling BDP from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF)  where he was a Commander, by former president Festus Mogae just for the Khama ‘magic’ to rescue a party that was troubled by bitter factionalism. The BDP fortunes were literally waning, and this was worrisome for a party that has been at the helm since Independence in 1966.

Mogae was chiefly implementing the recommendations of the late political consultant, Professor Lawrence Schlemmer who had recommended that Khama be roped into the BDP leadership and government, as he was not immersed in the party factionalism.

He was also reputedly popular than the party itself. Hardly a year after he took over, after 10 years into office as the State vice president, the BDP split for the first time after years of questioning his leadership style.

Some believed that the outgoing President Khama fomented the split in order to silence the Barata-Phathi faction, which had started to question some of his policies. Secondly, the split was linked to the succession struggle within the BDP.

BDP members had believed that Khama would be able to dissolve factions within the party, which did not happen. Rather, the situation became worse because of his partisan tendencies. Instead of dealing with the factional situation head on, as cancer eating on the party’s goodwill, he chose to sympathise with the so-called dominant A-Team faction.

In particular, Khama sought to neutralise the Barata-Phathi axis so that he could impose a successor without resistance from this faction. One of the things that the members were not comfortable with was after he announced that Cabinet ministers should not hold party positions so that they could account for their ministries without being engaged by other party activities.

This did not go well with the likes of Daniel Kwelagobe who opted to be a party chairperson than a Cabinet minister in order to gain control of the party, hoping that it will serve him anyhow.

Kwelagobe

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would come to lose his parliamentary seat in 2014 general elections when it was least expected, although his popularity as a party stalwart was also waning.

A lot of party operatives were seemingly under immense pressure to appease Khama through bootlicking hoping that it will work for them to no avail. This left many disillusioned operatives angry to a point of sabotaging party activities. Khama has failed to lead a united party for the last 10 years, which most members had been hoping that something would come out of his efforts.

Some members have gone to the extent of keeping quiet even when they are unhappy. That alone is a ticking time-bomb for the ruling party, since it could lead to another split if such members voice out.

Many hope that the coming President Mokgweetsi Masisi would do things differently unlike when he was Vice President to protect his seat.

The BDP has not been performing well in past general elections and its popular vote has dropped to 47% because of disgruntlement in the party. In 2019, the party has targeted winning some constituencies that are held by opposition parties.

But the way cases of primary election (Bulela Ditswe) appeals were handled by party central committee tells a different story. If Masisi would not step in to ensure that structures handle primary elections appeals properly, then his party might have more defections and lose again in those constituencies.

There has been an outcry that Masisi also works only with members who were giving him support at last year July’s elective congress in Tonota, one wonders if he would change as a President or not.

Lately, his MPs also lodged a complainant of how things are handled at Tsholetsa House, the party’s headquarters since they are going for their primary elections around August. The members threatened that if the matter were not taken seriously they would decamp to the opposition to exercise their democratic rights freely.

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