Phakalane magnate, Lesang Magang’s campaign for the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) secretary general post is getting tongues wagging as what was initially thought of as some social media gimmick is quickly gathering steam.
The former BDP youth league chairperson is reported to have since become a favourite for the establishment at a time when incumbent, Mpho Balopi, is widely reported to be unsure of his standing with the ruling party’s leader, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
With former minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele having dropped out of the race he closed ranks with Magang, who [Madigele] now appears to be in his [Magang’s] support.
It is also reported that another contender, former minister Boyce Sebetela, and Magang, enjoy a good relationship and might eventually also close ranks.
This week, Balopi wrote to BDP members informing them that party activities may start, hardly 24 hours after Magang had written that BDP members must make noise wherever they are, as the party experiences challenges on account of the infant Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
“Modomokoraga mongwe le mongwe a tsose modumo ha a leng teng! I have been thinking. We need a membership robust retention strategy as a party, and we must stop this thing of seemingly pretending everything is fine when our people are joining the BPF, especially in the Central District. Batho ba tsamaisiwa ke eng? Ba ya kae, ka go reng?” Magang wrote on his Facebook page.
He further argued, “Notwithstanding we have challenges is moving robustly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our members and leaders at community level need to feel we are actively solving it. And this is my proposal as part of the solution: We need to urgently return to what made us great – rebuilding our party structures one rock at a time. To assist this we need to consider commissioning a special high level revival team that will work directly with the Central Region Committee”.
Insider reports are that Balopi noticed Magang was de facto now rallying BDP troops to battle and had to quickly write a press release telling members that activities in the structures may begin.
This has not been the only sign of panic-mode activity. Last Friday, Balopi hastily arranged a dinner for sympathetic BDP Francistown region councillors, as he seeks to steady his ship.
The BDP secretary general’s position has found himself out in the cold with President Masisi seemingly choosing not to come out and back him publicly.
Contacted for comment, Magang said it is not clear if there is an opening for campaigns for the central committee positions.
“As you can see, the incumbent has been openly campaigning and last week he had a gathering of ‘democrats’ [Ma-Domi] in Francistown. His actions basically are what tells ‘democrats’ they may also start canvassing. So we deem it that it’s now open for ‘democrats’ with interest to also start consulting,” Magang said.
When it was drawn to his attention that Bulela Ditswe has a clear opening for canvassing for votes, Magang said the same did not apply to central committee elections.
“For the primary elections it is clear in the code of conduct that the party shall open for canvassing. But for the central committee elections there is no such provision, at least [not] to my knowledge. So what we do is basically follow the conduct of the current secretary general for guidance. But whatever we do, we must know it’s party first. At all times the BDP is more important than any single one of us.”
The central committee elections are expected to be held sometime in 2021 as such gatherings were disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The jury remains out as to who will emerge victorious, as Balopi is no pushover either.
It appears this will be a battle that goes right to the wire. It remains too early to tell who the victor will be.