Ignatius Moswaane’s argument is succinct – the executive arm of Government should account to the party – in this case his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The chairman of the party, he insists, should not be Vice President because that duplicates roles and it is the reason why his party has fallen off the radar of many voters.
Coincidentally when President Khama took over he discouraged members of his cabinet from holding dual roles in the party and cabinet, saying they will not deliver well in both. He has since softened on this stand.
The MP for Francistown West, who is also the campaign manager for Ndelu Seretse in the coveted seat of chairperson of BDP, maintains that his argument makes sense and says since the executive started failing to report to the party things have not gone well.
While he believes this advances the case for his candidate, he is adamant that this approach is the best that the party could adopt. He points to past mistakes. He says since 2002 government has failed to report to the party on the developmental policies and hence they have been detached from the electorates, leading to poor performance in 2009 and 2014 General Elections.
“I don’t have anything against Vice President Masisi and want him to assume presidency in 2018 but I am against him contesting for chairmanship position as he will be conflicted,” says the politician who is regarded as a straight talker.
To drive his point home, Moswaane says that if the party chairman is also vice president they will be no accountability as he will be a referee and player at the same time since he will be reporting to himself.
“Cabinet is supposed to report to the party on how they are pushing our policies in developing Batswana but then if the chairman is also a member of cabinet who will check whether they have not derailed?” he asks rhetorically.
Currently the President is powerful than the party because he was once the party chairman whilst vice president and was not accountable to anyone, says the maverick Moswaane.
Most of the policies that government implemented were never agreed upon by party members who have mandated them, says Moswaane, giving example of taking the clinics from local government to central government, adding that it is one of the reasons they performed badly in general elections.
“We want him to concentrate on government and he will be party president in 2018 and president of the party and as such we believe Seretse is the capable candidate who will keep the government on its toes to ensure that what is written in the manifesto is implemented,” said the militant politician.
He says when President Khama became VP and party chairman it killed the debates within the ruling party as democrats were afraid of being seen as undermining the future president and this will apply if Masisi is voted chairman.
Ndelu Seretse who lost Primary elections for Serowe east is contesting the chairperson seat against Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, diplomat Tebelelo Seretse, former youth leader Dithapelo Tshotlego, MP Biggie Butale among others.
Moswaane has admitted that though they have been in the lead, the playing ground is not level since they are pitted against the highest office in the country.
“I must admit that this is the most peaceful campaign I have ever seen within the BDP because there are no factions but the issue of using the office of VP to campaign is not right,” says the MP.
Former BDP chairman Daniel Kwelagobe, who is rooting for Tebelelo Seretse to lead the BDP ship to stability, said it is every democrat’s right to vote and be voted for any position within the party without intimidation.
Put to him that some complain that the declaration by Vice President Masisi that he has to be voted chairman because he is taking over as president in 2018 is a threat, DK as he is commonly called, says those saying that are cowards.
“Everyone is entitled to stand for positions within the party by the constitution so they must not feel threatened,” the former Molepolole South MP declared.
Kwelagobe has also not taken kindly to a recent advert that set a closing date for candidates wishing to stand for party positions at the July Congress.
“Candidates are nominated from the floor during the Election Day and they then accept the nominations or decline. That is the procedure not the circus we see in papers,” he insisted.
He said that one of the reasons that he is supporting Tebelelo Seretse for the chairmanship position is because he knows her capabilities both within the party and in government.
“Former President Festus Mogae once called on women to vote for each other as they are the majority within the party and this was repeated by President Ian Khama during the women’s wing congress in Lobatse. I support their positions and call upon women to stand up and vote Seretse as she is the only woman in the race,” he said.
This is not the first time Kwelagobe supported a woman candidate as he did that during the Maun congress when he threw his weight behind Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who would later lose to Samson Guma Moyo.
Asked if he will stand for additional member position, Kwelagobe said that if he is nominated, he will accept the nomination.