With only three months left, five teams fighting for the soul and heart of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have not finalised their lobby list.
It has emerged that most of the candidates are likely to contest the elections at the elective congress as lone rangers.
At the moment there are five leading candidates for the hotly contested position of party chairperson. The five bigwigs who have openly declare their candidature for the coveted position are former cabinet ministers Tebelelo Seretse and Ramadeluka ‘Ndelu’ Seretse; Minister Tshekedi Khama and MP for Tati West Biggie Butale.
Unlike Tshekedi who does not need the blessing of President Ian Khama, other would be contenders are said to be busy lining up to have an appointment with the First Citizen.
Khama still commands a huge following and respect inside the BDP. Currently he is the busiest BDP politician and contenders have delayed their campaigns before they consult and have their campaigns blessed.
It has been widely reported that former MP and BDP executive secretary, Botsalo Ntuane has been given the nod by Khama to contest for the secretary general post. The two met recently to discuss the issue of Ntuane’s availability. This was after the reigning secretary general Mpho Balopi had indicated his desire not to defend his position.
Contrary to the grapevine Ntuane will not join Tshekedi’s lobby list. There were allegations that Ntuane’s alignment to this lobby group is because he believes it is a winning team. “Ntuane was one of the instrumental founders of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). He later retraced his steps to the ruling party and later lost his parliamentary position to the opposition. He is still reeking from defeat and wouldn’t want another defeat. Tshekedi just like his brother President Khama commands a lot of following within the party,” said a Tshekedi sympathiser.
Ntuane, however, is said to have told all the leading contenders that he would not want to be aligned to any team. “He is alive to the fact that in the past some candidates lost not because they were not wanted. They lost because of the lobby group they had aligned themselves to,” said a Ntuane acolyte. Ntuane is said to want to appear as a unifier, ready to work with anyone.
Another contender for the secretary general Thabo Autlwetse is believed to be in Butale’s group. But the youthful Autlwetse is considered a game chancer and does not stand any chance with Ntuane, a seasoned campaigner and political animal. Autlwetse recently suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Andy Boatile for the election of National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) chairperson. Some former Autlwetse’s handlers are of the view that he should withdraw his candidacy.
There is another dark horse for this post. He is the former assistant Minister Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri. Just like Ntuane, Matlhabaphiri has allegedly met the President and asked for his blessings to contest and was allegedly given the good ahead. Many however do not believe that the former BDP strategist, popularly known as GUS, still has what it takes to win. He is a lone ranger in this campaign and not aligned to any lobby group.
There is another team commonly known as the ‘Third Force’ that is sympathetic to vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi. Following Masisi’s decision not to stand for elections, the group is now finding itself in a very difficult position, sources have said.
The group has no candidate for the chairmanship position. The group’s leader Samson Moyo Guma, according to sources, will not stand for any position, as he wants to remain more of a ‘kingmaker’ than a king.
Now the group is said to be thinking of backing either Tebelelo Seretse or Tshekedi Khama. Others are suggesting that the lobby group should cajole Masisi to stand.
The ‘Third Force’ will finalise its lobby list by the end of next month (April) after the Women’s Wing Congress.
The contestants will use this congress as yard sticks to the July congress.
Political analyst Anthony Morima noted that the tactics at play this year are different from the previous ones. He said some contenders have realised the benefits of going it alone.
“Some people have realised that for them to be able to win at the congress, they should campaign alone.
All the teams have realised that being quick to announce their team members early could disadvantage them. In the end they get attacked and sabotaged by others. These are two reasons why we see campaigns being different at the BDP,” said Morima.
Morima said it is good for a team to always check the mood of the party members on what they want. “Some candidates lose because they are quick to announce their alliances. It is advisable for someone to patiently wait first before they announce their associations.”