Who is next?
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership knew about the resignation of Goodhope-Mabule MP James Mathokgwane from politics long before parliament made the announcement, and have indicated that more will follow, impeccable sources maintain.
The sources, who attended Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi's campaign meeting recently at the old Molepolole council chambers that attracted councilors from Molepolole/Lentsweletau sub council, said after revealing that Mathokgwane would leave UDC by the end of the week he hinted at the possibility of more resignations from the opposition in the near future. Masisi, who was then the acting Head of State, had visited councilors to solicit support for his campaign for the party chairmanship ahead of the elective congress in Mmadinare in July. The next day Masisi was in Letlhakeng. Masisi could not comment on Friday evening, saying he was in a meeting.
The revelation has reignited speculation that Mathokgwane was bought out of his parliamentary seat just seven months in office. Speculation continues despite a spirited defense by Mathokgwane, claiming that he resigned because he is diabetic. On Friday morning reasons for his resignation become a topical issue on social media after he reiterated on a local radio station that he resigned following advice from his medical doctor, with some questioning his hasty recruitment to SPEDU while others were not convinced that the new appointment is less demanding than the office of an MP.
Meanwhile, Masisi has stepped up campaign for party chairman leaving nothing to chance as he crisscrosses the country lobbying for support. Lately Masisi has concentrated his campaign in the biggest region within BDP - Kweneng region - where he enjoys massive support from all the eight constituencies. He is scheduled to address Kweneng region BDP in Takatokwane next week (June 14) to solicit support
Masisi's running mate, former Molepolole North MP Gaotlhaetse Utlwang Matlhabaphiri, has also intensified campaign for the Secretary General position where he is expected to annihilate Botsalo Ntuane and Olebeng Ngwakwena. In a space of a month party President Ian Khama and vice president Masisi have visited Molepolole to address BDP followers. Although Masisi was on a campaign trail Khama was visiting party structures in Molepolole north. Some observers maintain that although he did not openly say it Khama's visit was to lend support to Matlhabaphiri, who is said to be more suitable to re-establish the grassroots connection the BDP used to enjoy among the masses.
Matlhabaphiri was expected to be elected among the delegates for the BDP congress in the Molepolole North branch congress scheduled for yesterday (Saturday), in stark contrast to his compatriot Daniel Kwelagobe whose Barataphathi faction was embarrassed two weeks ago in Molepolole South. Two weeks ago former MP for Molepolole South Kwelagobe suffered an embarrassing loss at the Molepolole south branch congress. Kwelagobe and his followers were all rejected by the branch, as none of them, including former council chairman Motlhophi Leo managed to secure a seat in the branch committee.
All those in DK’s camp were defeated. DK, who had campaigned to be a delegate, was not supported by even a single member. According to sources, DK was even denied an opportunity to comment by outgoing chairman Kabo Morwaeng who insisted that he was not even a delegate at the branch congress. DK preferred a selection process, which he said is provided for in the BDP constitution, as opposed to an election. Through a selection his name would have been submitted as a nomination to be a delegate at the congress, but this was not to be. Morwaeng, who was Kwelagobe’s campaign manager in the 2014 general elections, is said to have abandoned the latter after discovering a plot to replace him with Leo as DK’s successor in the parliamentary seat going forward. An earlier caucus by DK's faction had planned to take out Morwaeng who must have discovered the plan to remove him from the chairmanship. Kwelagobe lost to Dr Tlamelo Mmatli of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the 2014 general elections.
A week after DK’s fall Masisi was in Molepolole to address sub councilors in Molepolole/Lentsweletau. Masisi urged councilors to vote him chairman because as Vice President he should be in control of the party and government at the same time to promote unity. He also called for calm between those contesting positions.
The new Molepolole south branch committee is sympathetic to Shima Monageng - a perennial loser to Kwelagobe in the party primaries. Monageng has been defeated since 2003, 2008 and 2013 and has never been selected a delegate to party congress. He will make history when he travels to a BDP congress as a delegate next month. The new branch committee is made up of Chairperson Dorothy Batsile and her Deputy Thomas Letsholo, Treasurer Baleseng Mothupi, Secretary Aobakwe Garebakwena and his deputy Kebotlhale Mothupi.