Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairmanship candidate Ramadeluka Seretse has denied that vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s supporters manhandled him at Mmadinare yesterday morning.
But Mmegi has since established that the incident allegedly occurred when Seretse attempted to gain entry into an exclusive and affluent campsite reserved only for Masisi supporters. The well-secured camp dubbed ‘Camp Dubai’ is located on the outskirts of Mmadinare, a few kilometers away from the community hall where the elective congress will be held. The campsite is fenced and manned by security personnel. It has a large marquee tent, with 20 camping tents and mobile toilets.
One of the delegates, who witnessed the clash, Boss Jerry, a Gaborone Bonnington North delegate, said that they received calls from other delegates who told them that Masisi’s supporters were holding them hostage inside the camp. He said they drove to the campsite but were refused entry by the security personnel.
“We were shocked by this because we believe that we are fellow democrats hence we ought to be treated nicely,” he said.
It is alleged at this moment, Seretse then attempted to forcibly enter the campsite only to find himself in a nasty tussle with the security officers and one of Masisi’s campaigners, Isaac Maforaga.
Maforaga confirmed this altercation but denied that the whole incident had escalated into a major clash. He said Seretse had arrived at ‘Camp Dubai’ and told them that he had come to fetch his supporters.
“We told him that we do not expect him to be in our base but he was forceful. I had to retaliate with the same force and eventually forced him out of the camp,” he said.
Maforaga insisted that their camp is a private base where only Masisi supporters meet to strategise. He added that the situation became a bit chaotic after a bus carrying delegates arrived at the camp with supporters on board. He said there was nothing wrong with this as it is a democratic setup but said they had to support the arriving delegates.
Maforaga added that they gave the delegates an option to lodge at the campsite or join other party members elsewhere. He said this did not go down well with members of other lobby groups.
According to Maforaga, the rowdy BDP members supporting other chairmanship candidates only wanted to harass and intimidate the Masisi team.
“We handled the situation well. Everything calmed down except that another group [later] arrived but were easily handled by our security officers. We have since intensified our security,” he said.
He also said that they could not allow members of other camps to enter and solicit votes from members of Masisi’s camp, adding that they did not report the incident to the party leadership because they had sorted it out. Following the Thursday events, an insignificant number of BDP delegates told Mmegi that the congress should be postponed.
A Maun delegate, Oarabile Johannes, said that the pro-Masisi team is holding delegates hostage and refusing anyone entry into their camp. The worried delegate said that the other chairmanship candidates should call for the postponement of elections to allow the hostile situation to simmer.
Maforaga, however, insisted that it should be Seretse who should be suspended from contesting the elections because he had trespassed into another candidate’s camp. Seretse denied that he was manhandled but said that members of the Masisi camp appeared aggressive when speaking to him. He also said that he had managed to gain entry into the camp despite resistance from members of the pro-Masisi camp. “I do not want to be involved in anything good or bad that happened that time [at the camp],” he said.
Seretse differed with aggrieved party members who called for the postponement of the elections, saying that he would leave everything to God.