Molefhi, Malesu dump Guma-Khama camp
As BDP factions align
But threat remains that he will be challenged
The fallout between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor Lieutenant General Ian Khama took a new twist recently when factions started emerging within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with new alliances taking shape.
Brought to life by a Motion of No confidence against Masisi, and led by Leader of Opposition in Parliament Advocate Duma Boko, democrats within the Masisi camp remain adamant that the motion was sponsored by the Khama faction to test the waters.
One of the key figures in the Khama camp is said to be former BDP chairman Tati East MP Samson Guma, who is eyeing the position of Secretary General currently held by Mpho Balopi. The alleged Guma-Khama faction is said to be running out of time to find candidates for the party presidency and chairperson for next year’s special congress as those earmarked to contest the positions are either developing cold feet or have jumped ship.
The adage ‘once beaten twice shy’ best describes the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi as he appears to have made a hasty U-turn regarding contesting party positions.
The decision by Molefhi not to contest any position is said to have been motivated by the betrayal he suffered at the hands of some of the people who pushed him to challenge Masisi at the Tonota congress and later abandoned him.
At one point, the Selibe-Phikwe East MP wanted to pull out from the race but his supporters convinced him to stay put as they claimed to be on the ground and that the campaign was going well. In an interview Molefhi said he is not interested in contesting any party position and has never been approached by anyone. “My focus is to serve Selibe Phikwe East constituents and serving at the pleasure of the incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi as cabinet minister,” he said.
After ascending to the Presidency, Masisi pulled a surprise when he appointed Molefhi as the Minister of Presidential affairs, the most powerful ministry making him the third in the executive after Vice president Slumber Tsogwane. This is said to have ruffled some people the wrong way, especially those who supported Masisi ahead of the Tonota congress as they expected him to have dropped Molefhi from Cabinet. Highly placed sources within the BDP have revealed that Molefhi was one of the front runners sponsored by the Guma-Khama faction who wanted to take on the Masisi-Balopi (MB) axis at next year’s elective congress.
Two weeks ago the faction is alleged to have met in Palapye where a strategy was devised to look for both presidential and chairperson candidates ahead of the critical congresses next year. The Palapye meeting, which was mostly attended by some Members of Parliament from the Central region and aspiring candidates, was briefed about the Motion of No Confidence against President Masisi which was to be presented by Boko the following week.
Although Boko vehemently denied that the motion was sponsored by the Khama faction, sources within the BDP are adamant it was, with Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education Fidelis Molao even labeling the LOO a hired gun and rubble rousing for certain people. Boko has vehemently denied being used in BDP wars.
Samson Guma, who was one of the campaign managers for Masisi when the latter was contesting the chairmanship at the Mmadinare congress in 2015 and Tonota 2017, has indicated that some democrats want him to contest the Secretary General position next year. In an interview Guma confirmed that people are still lobbying him to challenge for the Secretary General position and he is still consulting on the proposal.
Regarding the Palapye meeting, he denied ever attending a lobby meeting and has not driven to Palapye in a very long time. “Let me make it categorically clear that I am fully behind President Masisi as I have been doing when he was the vice president and contesting for the party chairmanship position. Nothing has changed and will never change,” he said, adding that he is also fully behind party chairperson Tsogwane.
In April next year the BDP will hold a special congress to elect the party president and the Guma faction, which is said to be not happy with the way Masisi is governing the country, want him challenged. One of the ring leaders of the faction when asked if by challenging Masisi just a few months before the elections wont destabilise the party he answered in negative. “It won’t cause any instability because the party president is elected by just delegates and people on the ground don’t know what is going on,” he said in confidence.
He reasoned that they are currently mobilising and still looking for a suitable and credible candidate to challenge Masisi next year. “Our focus now is the primary elections and ensuring that our candidates do well and will take it from there even if they lose, it will also work in our favor as we will leverage with it,” he revealed.