Camp Dubai was, or is that group of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who supported its then Chairman Rre Mokgweetsi Masisi to seek re-election to that position at the party’s National Congress in Tonota in 2017. As we know, the group swept all elective positions with big margins and in the process, taking Rre Masisi’s challenger in the person of Rre Nonofo Molefhi, straight to the cleaners. Consequently, the results never came as a surprise presumably to Rre Molefhi himself. It is said that Camp Dubai was awash with resources to the extent that those who supported Rre Molefhi had to jump ship because his group was seriously starving. Going into the BDP congress later this year and three months before the general elections, the tables have turned as Camp Dubai appears to be as anxious as a death row inmate waiting for the trap door to open. The situation has dramatically and spectacularly changed.
Immediately after Rre Masisi was inaugurated as the fifth President of this Republic, serious cracks in the Camp Dubai construct started to appear with its formidable functionaries starting to drift away from it. Notable amongst these functionaries are the former President Rre Ian Khama and Hon Guma Moyo who have since had a fall-out with Rre Masisi. By any measure and particular Rre Khama, his influence and popularity whether you like it or not couldn’t have come at a wrong time for Camp Dubai as is the case. As if that was not enough, the arrival of Hon Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to contest Rre Masisi for the BDP presidential position in the upcoming congress somewhat threw the spanner in the works as Rre Khama has endorsed her. This could be a huge boost for her. If Rre Khama’s influence and popularity is still as solid as it was thought to be (and nothing suggests this has changed), it should go without saying that this would have further weakened Camp Dubai.
It should be noted that at the peak of Camp Dubai’s dominance in the body politic of the BDP, the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal had not yet broken out. Media reports after the breaking out of the scandal indicated that some funds from it may have been channelled to Camp Dubai, thereby making it more financially and politically attractive. With the breaking out of the scandal, it would suggest that financial taps to finance Camp Dubai may have dried up because the savvy financiers may now be too reluctant to give blank cheques. The recent unleashing of the DCEC, DIS and BURS to follow up and tame blood money financiers and tax errants would leave such financiers and their comrades in crime thinking twice because some of them may be staring at the prison door. It may not be far-fetched to suggest that the crime busting institutions could be ready to pounce on shoddy financiers who could be on Hon Venson-Moitoi’s side.
If we agree that the above may have shaken Camp Dubai to a paralysis or near paralysis stage, would it nevertheless be capacitated to deliver a fatal blow to Hon Venson-Moitoi’s faction? Difficult to say except that the results of the contest will answer the question. But it should be acknowledged that Camp Dubai enjoys the advantage of incumbency in the form of controlling the Executive Committee of the BDP and the levers of power in government. That said, it should also be acknowledged that some in both the Executive Committee and government may be lying low to avoid victimisation of some sort given the toxic atmosphere obtaining in the BDP. They could be waiting for the right moment to strike at the ballot box.
In the quest to may be stamp its authority as a powerful faction, Camp Dubai could in the process, be dropping the ball and thereby unwittingly showing its vulnerabilities and frailties. It has been reported that at the upcoming General Council meeting where a decision on whether or not to allow elections to take place at the congress, delegates will vote by show of hands to indicate whether they endorse or reject such a view. If this were to be true, it would be some kind of intimidation to those who may not share such suggestion. While Rre Masisi has put to bed the anxiety on whether elections will be held or not last weekend in Palapye, the fact that Camp Dubai had initially tried to usurp the party Constitution by suggesting such should not take place could be misconstrued as a sign of vulnerability to competition. The recent dismissal of a sub-committee member of the BDP and the recent resignation of the Executive Secretary at Tsholetsa House could still be misconstrued as a purge to those who are perceived to be anti-Camp Dubai. These developments in some way could, even if they were in good faith, have undesired consequences on Camp Dubai – to weaken it. At this stage where the political environment is so contaminated and stakes probably higher than ever before, it is not desirable that drastic action(s) that could create perceptions of purging of some sort are undertaken.
Now that Camp Dubai has been rattled by divisions that did not exist about one and half years ago, and further that the other component stands on the other side of the fence, it is reasonable and fair to suggest that it is not as solid as it was then. Any football team that loses some of its important and influential players will surely be weakened to effectively compete with others. Any relay team that loses one of its top four members on the eve of a world championship is bound not perform to its upmost potential. It could be argued that no member of a team is indispensable whereupon they can be readily replaced. Fair enough. But it should be appreciated that it is not easy to replace talent and experience overnight that can translate into instant success.