Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members will over the weekend elect a new Central Committee. The most coveted position contested for is that of the chairman where Vice President (VP) Mokgweetsi Masisi faces stiff competition from minister Nonofo Molefhi. President Ian Khama backs his deputy in his re-election bid. Mmegi Staff Writer TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE reports
It is interesting to see whether BDP diehards will defy President Khama who has declared his undying support for Mokgweetsi Masisi and vote for Nonofo Molefhi instead.
In Khama’s presidency, ‘yes men and yes women’ who never say no to his wishes have always surrounded him. But, this is a challenging moment as the BDP operatives look back with heavy hearts as the party’s fortunes under Khama continued to dwindle.
Although from a distance it looks like Masisi will bag it, Molefhi has been putting up a great fight and commands support which has left many believing that he can still pull it off or lose with a small margin.
This position means a lot to Masisi more than to Molefhi because if he (Masisi) loses then the party will not give him the respect he deserves as the VP and when he becomes the party and state president next year April.
However, it should not be forgotten that Molefhi, whose Selebi-Phikwe East constituency is one of the marginalised constituencies based on the 2014 general election and before, he might use the chairmanship as a lifesaver of his political life if he loses the parliamentary elections in 2019.
As for Masisi, his loss could leave the party feeling very insecure and could open a new and serious battle to replace him and search for a more credible and people’s president.
Political analyst Anthony Morima says the BDP members believe in continuity and they will not want to be seen to be going against the President’s word.
“This has been a tradition. It looks like Masisi has an upper hand when one looks at the delegates who are supporting him at constituency level. This is so because democrats believe in
Masisi’s lobby list has names of people who are viewed by some as credible people as compared to Molefhi’s lobby list.
“Molefhi’s lobby list has names of people who attack the party openly and democrats are still uncomfortable with that. Again it has people who lost badly in the previous congress that was held in Mmadinare. History at times could disadvantage a person.”
Morima said the VP has long declared to his party members that he will be contesting for the position and he started the campaign earlier unlike Molefhi.
The political analyst posits that the reason why Masisi wants the chairpersonship is to solidify his control of the party as he transits to presidency next year.
Morima however, warned that Molefhi should not be undermined because he might have a sympathy vote because democrats do love him since he knows how to relate with all people in the party.
“Unlike other party members who are classy because of their richness, Molefhi is different. Again Molefhi has calculated his political life because he wants to remain relevant in the BDP even if he loses during the 2019 elections. He has seen that opposition is very strong in his area and chances of him coming back as an MP are very slim,” Morima added.
He feels that while Masisi might win, some people are uncomfortable with his style of leadership because they believe that he likes dividing party members.
“Some members believe that Masisi has contributed a lot to recent divisions in the BDP and people who are supporting him are treated with kids’ gloves. Appaently he works only with people that support him,” he said.