As the Botswana Democratic Party national congress, where the soul of the ruling party will be fought for, gets closer, the questions in most people’s minds is who will be the king makers?
Traditionally the BDP National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) has always ensured that certain preferred members make it to the helm of the BDP Central Committee. The NYEC holds its congress and elections on February 6 in Masunga, and it is the new executive committee that will play a crucial role in determining who leads the ruling party. The immediate question though, is who will emerge the victor from the NYEC elections.
Can Thabo Autlwetse claim the scalp of the incumbent chairperson Andy Boatile? The young man has centered his campaign reformation, revival and rehabilitation.
All that is hinged on the belief that change can only come from within the BDP and it must be overseen and delivered by those with a deep understanding of the party’s values. It is a voice of hope many disillusioned youth in the ruling party are eager to hear, but can it match Boatile’s current support? Some within the BDP believe he is quickly establishing himself as a bright young light that offers hope to an ailing party.
“At youth level and in BDP youth structures the young Autlwetse is fast becoming the face of renaissance,” says an Autlwetse foot soldier. But who is Thabo Autlwetse really?
He was born 30-years-ago in Serowe’s Maaloso ward, and is a businessman based in Kasane. He is the outgoing regional vice chairperson for the North West region that includes Maun West, Chobe Okavango and Ngami.
Autlwetse grew up in the BDP and officially joined the party 10 years ago. He has been part of the party’s structures for the good part of those years. Among other positions, he previously held that of ward secretary in Gaborone Central and national information officer in the NYEC.
An avid reader of history, he draws some inspiration from great conquerors such as Hannibal Barca of Carthage and men of great devotion to principle like Martin Luther King and Sir Seretse Khama. ‘We want to build the NYEC’s capacity to affect the lives of the youth and place it at the center of the fight against poverty and unemployment among the youth of Botswana. Our desire is to see an empowered youth that can sustain itself through innovation. We want a return to the values that built the BDP and build from the roots a (youth) membership with a proud sense of identity who understand where the party is coming from as a basis of moving it forward,” he said.
Autlwetse says those like-minded in the BDP want to be part of a deliberate plan to train future party leaders in its ways. They also want to build for the future a clear path of succession for leadership positions from wards through constituencies and all the way to national leadership.
“I joined the BDP because of its rich tradition, its adherence to principles of botho and therisanyo and admiration for the work that its leaders, since independence have done for the betterment of the lives of Batswana,” said Autlwetse, who is also a nephew of the Member of Parliament for Serowe North Kgotla Autlwetse.
Should the young man be elected to the influential position of NYEC chairman, he may get his desire to see his dream of a reformation come true, as his committee will ensure only those who are pro-change take control of the party’s soul.