Businessman Lesang Magang has declared that he will stand for the position of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general.
Following the incumbent secretary general Mpho Balopi’s confirmation that he was campaigning, his closest challenger Magang has declared that his own campaign was gearing up.
“Yes, we saw that he says the campaigns have started despite having previously said there is to be a writ of election. It is therefore open season because the secretary general has declared,” Magang said in confirmation.
Speaking to Mmegi, he confirmed that his own campaign was starting. Quizzed further, the former BDP National Youth Executive Committee chairperson candidly declared set forth : “In the next couple of weeks I will be sharing my FEAL strategy for the party. The people of the party have been speaking with me and I have been listening”.
It is believed that his FEAL strategy includes at its apex ‘Operation Recovery’ which is a strategy for the recovery of constituencies the party lost especially in the North.
He continued: “Yes, one of the pillars of our strategy is how we are going to reclaim constituencies we lost. We must reclaim a lot of those constituencies because as we all know, a good part of the South are swing constituencies which may flip at any time. Also, gone are the days when all we had to do was label people as ‘bao Ke ma BPF’ [those are Botswana Patriotic Front]”.
Asked to explain what he meant, Magang explained that it had become a trend for some members to label others as BPF members when they want to paint them as bad people in the eyes of leadership.
“Our aim is to unify the party, and unity cannot be attained in an environment where Democrats label each other like that merely to de-campaign them or make leaders see them as traitors”.
He added that together they are going to rebuild the ruling party structures even in areas taken over by the opposition, and “I can assure you this- we are going to rebuild the integrity and transparency of our Bulela Ditswe systems. The party needs help, President Masisi has been doing great but he needs someone with all hands on deck to implement his transformation agenda. He should not be running the country and at the same time worrying about building party structures”.
Magang also noted, amongst the things, that he will be targeting giving Bulela Ditswe integrity in order for democrats to be all treated fairly. Also a key part of his strategy is to embrace democrats who had since become dormant in the party to become active again, with different
Last week, Balopi came out fuming about Magang’s social media presence. Balopi, who said he does not campaign through social media said in the interview with a local publication, he has started campaigning and that he is currently lobbying Members of Parliament and councillors. He confirmed that he is in the race and is campaigning for the position of Secretary General as was expected. The BDP will have its elective congress in July 2021, even if the COVID-19 situation is to be arrested earlier it seems. Talk in the political corridors is that Balopi has been seeking support from President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and keeps advising for elections to be held later so he can get the explicit backing. This has resuscitated talk that Balopi will only ever let an election happen if he has the explicit backing of a sitting President. While in local interviews he has spoken about having been around for a while, his record says something else. “Balopi became BDP secretary general for the first time handpicked by former president Khama after Kentse Rammidi’s defection to the opposition. At the BDP 35th congress in Maun in 2013. he also ran firmly with the support of Khama. He was to however not contest the next Central Committee election in 2015 which was won by Botsalo Ntuane,” said a BDP insider. Nevertheless, talk in the BDP is that Balopi has been going around saying the President asked him to form a lobby list. Close sources to President Masisi say he was rebuked for such talk since President Masisi does not want to divide the party by being aligned with a lobby. This, they say, is the reason Balopi keeps requesting for congress to be postponed to a much later date with the hope that eventually the President will publicly endorse him like he previously had enjoyed presidential support for his Central Committee campaigns.
Failing to get the endorsement, Balopi is said to have been flirting with former President Ian Khama and the BPF to garner support amongst BDP members who were sympathetic to Khama and BPF. “There is a reason BPF Secretary General is one of Balopi’s number one supporters. He is seen as a key conduit in the BDP for BPF and Khama. But the BPF guys do not even trust him either because he was one of those leading the chorus for their ostracism,” another BDP member said.