It is often the quality of decisions one makes that define him. But equally more important are the advices rendered that make or break an individual. On the back of a number of clear gaffes from the leader of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Ndaba Gaolathe, PHILLIMON MMESO looks at his inner circle – the people that he is most likely to consult before making a key decision. As things stand, he will have to listen more carefully to the advisers or seek a new think-tank to survive the harsh political storm he is facing.
Sir Ketumile Masire
Gaolathe regards the former President as his father figure. He invited him to his launch as Parliamentary candidate for Bonnington south constituency in 2014 though he did not attend. Masire is regarded as the well of political wisdom and Gaolathe allegedly consults him on major decisions that he wants to take. It was allegedly at Masire’s advice that the soft-spoken Gaolathe desisted from attacking his political opponents during a recent radio interview.Masire had his fair share of factions while still at the helm of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and fought an unsuccessful battle at containing them. The relationship between Masire and Gaolathe has been causing uneasiness within the ruling party. In 2010 before the BMD was formed, Masire played a pivotal role in trying to reconcile President Khama and his erstwhile political rival the late Gomolemo Motswaledi.
Gaolathe has always been close to the former president. He was Mogae’s his speech writer at some point and advisor on economic issues. He used to accompany him on some of his official trips. The two are said to be still close. During the BDP political turmoil which led to the formation of BMD, Gaolathe and Motswaledi used to visit the former president for advice, something that didn’t sit well with President Khama.
One of the conveners for the opposition talks is regarded as a close ally of Gaolathe and his advisor on some of the decisions that he makes. Mpotokwane together with Emang Maphanyane played a pivotal role in uniting opposition parties, resulting with the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which performed well in the 2014 General Elections. The 72-year-old former Botswana High Commissioner to London is said to be very close to Gaolathe and often offers him advice on how to diffuse tensions within the BMD.
The President of UDC Duma Boko stands by his colleague in the UDC leadership and advises him on how to tame the troublesome crew within the BMD. Boko, who managed to crack the whip within the BNF, is very close to Gaolathe and continuously offer him political guidance. Though he has never commented about BMD internal challenges those close to the party says that he prefers to address the issue through Gaolathe.
The former Speaker of the National Assembly, who recently defected to the BMD from the ruling party, was immediately appointed special advisor to the UDC leadership. The position of special advisor is a very powerful position within the UDC as she is entrusted with confiding with the party’s top leadership. Sources within the UDC have revealed that she was appointed to the position at the recommendation of Gaolathe. The militant politician, who has worked with Gaolathe at BDP, is regarded as the mother to Gaolathe and advises on various issues, especially on how to instil discipline within the party. Nasha has worked with key members of the NEC within and outside parliament and is said to be helping Gaolathe to understand them. She was in the same faction of Barataphathi with Gilbert Mangole (BMD Secretary General) and Wynter Mmolotsi (BMD Vice President) and knows them well while she has worked with Modubule at Parliamentary level.
Mmolotsi is Gaolathe’s right hand man. He understands and knows the tactics of the key leaders of the Modubule-Mangole faction as he used part of them until the fall out after the Gantsi Congress.
A shrewd politician, Mmolotsi is the one who - with his vast experience in factional wars - is taking the other faction head on, thus shielding Gaolathe. They recently toured the country together addressing members on the state of the party and calling for the special congress.
Among issues that some feel Gaolathe should have handled better include: His handling of the BMD Youth League factions; writing a public letter to members of his executive after they voted to admit Sydney Pilane back into the party against his wish; and his recent attempt to call a special congress with letters from the regions which were found wanting.
Political analyst’s views
Political Analyst Anthony Morima said Gaolathe as the party president is the custodian of the constitution but failed to follow it to the letter. “The blunders that he made like the recent letters from the regions which called for a special congress is a clear indication that he has failed to follow the Constitution,” he pointed out, adding such blunders are now exposing him. He said that the BMD President failed to read and understand the political culture and behaviour of the party. “I think because of his corporate world background he thought he was doing what is in the best interest of the party but failed to understand politics is a different turf,” said Morima. Another leadership attribute that he has failed to show, according to Morima, is ensuring that both the NEC and BMDYL leadership rally behind him. Morima said that a leader must ensure that at all times he has the executive behind him so that they can protect him in times of crisis. Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) as the umbrella party has also failed to ease tensions within the BMD, observed Morima.