One of the most powerful positions in the BDP governing structure is the secretary general (SG). As the head of the secretariat, the SG is the hub of the party responsible for the management of the affairs of the party. Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE and Correspondent SIKI MOTSHWARI JOHANNESS analyse the strengths and weaknesses of three candidates vying for the BDP secretary general
One can safely say the party is as good as its secretary general. Since inception, the BDP had been so lucky to have at the helm of its secretariat division men of exceptional abilities such as Sir Ketumile Masire and the controversial Daniel Kwelagobe amongst others. These two men discharged their duties with great passion and distinction.
It is small wonder during Masire- Kwelagobe time the BDP was invincible. It is not clear whether the BDP will be able to raise another secretary general of Masire or Kwelagobe’s stature. This is the challenge that every passionate democrat is pondering on as the party is now charged with the responsibility of electing a secretary general at the 2017 Tonota elective congress. The party‘s fortunes have been dwindling in the last few years and the future could depend on who is going to get the nod for the secretary general post.
Three seasoned campaigners are vying for the coveted position of SG. These are incumbent Botsalo Ntuane, Mpho Balopi and Jacob Nkate. On paper this is going to be a close contest as each one of them has an equal chance of winning. It’s common cause that the trio has served as secretary-generals at different stages of the BDP. Ntuane has the advantage of incumbency. He has everything that the BDP needs in a secretary general.
There is no doubt about his leadership credentials, writing and speaking prowess. He masters the art of rhetoric just like his counterparts in the opposition ranks. On his day with his rhetoric, he can galvanise the party to greater heights and his youthful exuberance is a plus so far as the goal of attracting the young voter is concerned. However, he needs to pull up his socks, as while serving as the SG in his just ending term, he was subdued and did not seem interested to be in the thick of things.
He needs to know that the SG is a 24/7 job and cannot afford to drop the guard if at all he desires to keep the opposition at bay. He needs to rediscover the firepower, which seems to be a missing ingredient. He is not immersed in the BDP factional formations, which may work for or against him. He was previously associated with the Nonofo Molefhi axis. Balopi’s bid for a second bite of the cherry came as bit of a surprise to many.
When he quit the SG role, many thought he felt that he was content with the contribution he had made. A second back was not expected soon. But, it seems he believes he has some unfinished business. Balopi is more of a businessman, tenderpreneur if you like, than a politician. He will inject a more business-like atmosphere into the secretariat and would most likely succeed in initiating strategic partnerships with the business community.
However, he has to do more to cultivate more support at the grassroots as he appears somewhat detached from the ordinary folks in the party. Obviously linked to the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s faction, Balopi banks on the support of the Masisi team to carry him on through. As for Nkate, when he left for Japan on a national assignment, he was the man of the people with grassroots support. It’s not clear how much of his support base was eroded while he was away.
However, he is a shrewd politician who can restore the BDP credibility. His only undoing is that he has been sending mixed signals leaving his followers confused as to what position he is seeking. Declaration of interest in the presidency caused a stir and could have rubbed the wrong way those who think that Masisi should be left unchallenged in the presidency.
He might have committed political suicide inadvertently. His cause is also not helped by the fact that twice Masisi went into Nkate’s den and de-campaigned him by pleading with the constituents not to consider Nkate for both parliamentary seat and in the race for the secretary general. He is linked to the Molefhi faction.
SG: Mpho Balopi
Treasurer: Satar Dada
Deputy SG: Shaw Kgathi
Deputy Treasurer: Jagdish Shah
Ponatshego Tshiping, Slumber Tsogwane, Ngaka Ngaka, Guma Moyo, Mchana Shamukuni
SG: Jacob Nkate
Treasurer: Tebelelo Seretse
Deputy SG: Biggie Butale
Deputy Treasurer: Molebatsi Molebatsi
Phillip Makgalemele, Ignatius Moswaane, Dijeng, Tshenolo Leshomo, Baphothulogi Kgari