Failure by the State and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) President, Mokgweetsi Masisi to consult the secretary-general (SG) of the party on a number of issues may escalate tensions within the political movement.
Masisi did not consult Balopi on the appointments contrary to party practice, sources said.
The BDP sub-committees are powerful because they report directly to the central committee unlike other structures.
It has been a norm within the ruling party that usually the SG has a say on the nominations of sub-committee members especially the crucial ones such as the communication and national strategy.
One would expect the SG to be an ex-officio member of the committees so that he represents the party central committee’s interest. Masisi allegedly took a decision to combine the two committees to make them one. The overseer of the committees is Dr Alfred Tsheboeng, who has the power to call meetings for all the committees, it is claimed.
Previously, during former president Ian Khama’s reign, it became evident that communication and strategy committees had powers because the recommendations they made were normally adopted by the central committee and the party President always listened to the structures.
It is also clear that the communication chairperson always has an upper hand when it comes to relationships with the President than the SG.
Still on the issue, during Khama’s tenure, the members once complained that the sub-committees should not be treated as if there are bigger than other party structures. Equally, members felt that some amongst them were causing divisions within the party.
Historically, the communication sub-committee was used by the BDP to help the party with communication within. However, the mandate changed when the party felt that the structure should be used to defend the President and the BDP on social media.
Mmegi has learnt that normally when the President chooses people for such positions, he wants office bearers who are loyal, have integrity and could be trusted.
“Since the two committees are combined, they will be working hand in hand especially when they are discussing issues of strategies to help the BDP to grow and others,” the source said.
“One of the mandates they have been assigned to do is to revive the party structures and to ensure that they are working and recruit other members to the party. Again, the members are required to be active and defend the party when it is under attack on social media.”
Another source said Masisi consulted the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane and some of the members of the party central committee but not the SG when making decisions regarding the committees. The BDP’s constitution article 33.1 states that the President may also appoint an advisor to each working committee.
Political analyst, Lesole Machacha said the new turn of events at Tsholetsa might escalate tensions within the party. He observed that it is important for political parties to take party norms very seriously because they help in the building of the parties and also for purposes of stability.
The President, he said, must be careful not to find himself having divided the party central committee as normally, the SG has powers on the ground and within the central committee because those are the people he works with closely.
He also said it is important for the sub-committees to work closely with the SG for accountability and also for their roles not to collide.
Another political analyst, Keaoleboga Dipogiso said the set up may cause accountability problems as operational policies fall under the supervision of the SG.
“The party administration requires collegiality and cooperation. Secondly, the operational committees responsible for running party activities must bear allegiance to the party and the party operational committees fall under the supervision of the secretary general and if indeed it is true that this wasn’t the case, then it will be very unfortunate,” Dipogiso said.
BDP spokesperson, Kagelelo Kentse said they are only appointed by the appointing authority being the President of the party.
“Once appointed, we work with the party structures and the leadership to push the party image,” he said.
“Communication committee is tasked with communicating BDP’s position on specific portfolios for a strategic purpose or in pursuit of the party strategy and also initiating and or maintaining relationships with fraternal parties, and indeed the international community of nations parties.”
He added that they are going to keep on working with the party secretary-general. On the issue of whether the SG was consulted or not, Kentse said there is no way he (Kentse) would know because members are appointed by the President.
He said the party President believes in consultation and he must have consulted some central committee members which the SG is part of it.