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Kgathi Forced To Retreat

CHAKALISA DUBE
Shaw Kgathi PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) deputy secretary general (DSG), Shaw Kgathi, was over the weekend reportedly forced to unceremoniously stop an internal party meeting by near furious party members in Francistown South.

Kgathi had visited the constituency in order to officially unveil candidates for the next year general elections, who are entirely made up of those who won the BDP January primaries. The DSG visit was also meant to give permission to the party’s January primary election winners to start campaigns for the 2019 polls.  

However, insiders at the meeting explained that before Kgathi could finish his address, party members told him that there is no way he could unveil candidates before the party could deliberate on the protests launched by those who lost the widely disputed primaries.

A host of those who lost the primaries are also said to have taken turns to air their disapproval of the mandate of Kgathi’s visit. “Kgathi told us that to the best of his knowledge all protests have been effectively handled and those affected were directly made aware of the outcomes of their protests or notified about the status of the protests by relevant party structures acting on behalf of the central committee,” one party insider who attended the weekend meeting said.

The source added: “He even called a senior official at the party secretariat to establish if those who protested have been listened to or at least informed about the status of their protests, but he did not get a convincing answer”.

Following a brief interaction amongst party members during the internal meeting, the sources said it was resolved that Kgathi should go back to the central committee and inform it about the grievances of BDP members in Francistown South in relation to the handling of protests. Kgathi is said to have agreed to halt the meeting and go back to the party leadership.

“Members boldly told him

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that they will not work for the party if their protests are not effectively dealt with,” another insider said. A few weeks ago, ex-president Ian Khama made a shocking and an unexpected announcement at the BDP national conference in Gaborone. Khama officially announced that candidates who won the January primaries would represent the party at the next general elections.

He made the announcement despite the party having not yet heard those who protested the primaries. Apart from dividing the party, BDP die-hards expressed fear that some members might go to court if their protests are not listened to or ditch the party.

In February, Khama also rebuked those who protested the January primaries saying that they were doing so because of lust for power. He was addressing BDP members in the Francistown region at Matsiloje.

At the time, members said that Khama’s position meant that their protests would be dismissed, because they are considered bitter losers.

Some of those who lost the primaries have alleged that the winners were favoured because they were affiliated to a faction led by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is said to be trying to consolidate his position in the party.

Yesterday Kgathi refused to comment on the recent developments in Francistown South. “Details of the Francistown meeting are purely internal,” he said with finality.

Meanwhile, BDP members interested in the primaries for Moselewapula ward in the Francistown West constituency have refused to settle for a compromise candidate during their meeting with Kgathi

There are about 10 people who want to contest the primary elections, but eight attended the weekend meeting. The winner of the primaries will secure candidacy to replace the late Lechedzani Modenga who was the area councillor.



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