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Of Khama’s late entrance and not-so-rosy retreat

Khama arriving at Palapye retreat PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
PALAPYE: The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) national meet was held at Majestic Five Hotel in Palapye. It was historic in more than many ways.

The party emerged out of the retreat disordered and more bruised than they were prior to the meeting.

Besides the presence of all its structures, it had attracted many party veterans of all the Parliaments since 1965. For the first time, the meet was held at a venue swamped with security and barricaded all-round. Armed soldiers guarded every corner of the hotel. Police presence was visible while a host of security intelligence officers moved up and about. A security company manned the entrances. The set up spelt a party deeply troubled.

It laid bare the severity of instability gripping the ruling party. Only members who carried tags were allowed inside the venue.

Tags were collected at Lotsane Senior Secondary School a few kilometres from the hotel where the retreat took place, but they were only reserved for listed members.

Insiders felt the list favoured the new regime and its dominant faction and the retreat was staged to frustrate Masisi’s challenger Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and her followers.

Masses of the BDP diehards without tags were idling needlessly outside the barricaded area.

The security was not bending, not even to the elderly members of the party. It was new for the democrats to be closed out of their party function. They had done the usual. They just came regardless of the list issue, and they were shell-shocked to learn they could not go through. They watched the proceedings from under the shades as Masisi’s convoy slid through into the barricaded area. However, everything went smoothly. Masisi delivered an address that left murmurs in the pockets of caucuses that formed at every corner at teatime. He had even convinced Venson-Moitoi to backtrack on her words after she opened up on her disappointment for the President’s failed promises on the vice presidency.

Khama’s arrival threw spanners into the works of Masisi’s address. His late entrance plan was masterful and timely. He received an overwhelming standing ovation. A welcome customary to that he received while the still Head of State. Everything came to a halt, masses of people wanted to grab a piece of him as he climbed out of his car. Masisi’s speech behind closed doors was interrupted as the former president entered the room. He sat at the back of the hall with the rest of the members after his companion, Parks Tafa was denied entry.

Insiders said members inside the hall stood and walked to the back to greet their former leader. Khama took full advantage and exposed the security arrangements of the new regime. He refused to take his seat until Tafa was allowed inside. In fact, it took

his blood cousin, Ramadeluka Seretse to convince him to take up a seat that was reserved for him at the front with other esteemed members of the party. Khama was silent the entire show. He left all members second-guessing his intent. He, however, had agreed to a meeting after the incumbent apologised for not finding an opportune time in the past due to hectic schedules.He had lunch with Masisi, but insiders feel it was superficial. “Their first meeting was a bit hostile, to say the least. I don’t see them agreeing on anything. The damage in their relationship is grave,” a source who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation said, noting Khama’s late arrival spoke loudly. Khama had apparently given an excuse. His priorities, however, were questionable. His commitment on the day was to open a one-day football tournament of amateur teams at Palapye Swallows grounds.

His team, Super X1 was participating at the tournament that coincidentally had coincided with the day of the retreat. The source said his intentions were deliberate, and the new regime fell into his trap.

“Unlike the incumbent, Khama endears himself to the people. He was sure his arrival was going to divert attention. The President knew what was coming but had no plans for Khama, he just played along,” the source said.

“He realised how powerful Khama still is and he would have felt defeated. At the end, he was claiming he could not find time for a meeting. They have agreed to meet in the near future, but the damage seems irreparable, we will see what comes out of it.” The source said what made it even complicated is the fact that elders of the party have allowed themselves to be used on the videos that are making rounds in the social media where they endorse the incumbent.

“How will they mediate if need be when they have already picked sides?” the source wondered.

“This will not go anywhere. The party came out of that retreat more bruised than before. From here factionalism will go into a full swing.”

The source claimed Masisi had surrounded himself with young cadres of the party, and they deal recklessly with the members and are causing divisions.

Following the events, the source continued, “If Moitoi ever doubted herself, she would have gained a boost and will be inspired to face the incumbent. She has felt the Khama magic.” “Masisi has to convince Khama to return to his camp if he fails he had to up his game and that could bring more complications in the party than they are right now.”


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