Despite official denials, on the ground it will appear former President Ian Khama is glad to associate and work with some members of the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
On Friday afternoon, the former Head of State was at Pitsane village in the Southern District where the area councilor had invited him to a series of activities that were to culminate with a Kgotla meeting in the area. Other activities included a game of football by Khama’s team and the local outfit.
Goodhope/Mabule parliamentary candidate Dr. Patrick Molutsi has dissociated himself from Khama’s visit.
UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa has issued a statement denying that Khama was helping their party to campaign for General Elections.
“They claim UDC is in collusion with the so-called New Jerusalem faction led by former President Khama. All these are malicious attempts by the Masisi faction after a sham that was the Kang Congress. It is all part of a ploy to bay for Batswana's sympathy by playing victim. Batswana should remain vigilant at all times and correct this by denying BDP votes at the polls in October by voting the UDC,” said Mohwasa in a statement.
What might seem to draw Khama to the opposition though could be that none of BDP candidates are inviting him to their areas and events – this is possibly also in fear that they might be perceived to be part of his alleged faction. He appears in these alleged UDC events wearing nation colours.
What is making the link between UDC and Khama easy is also the perceived close relationship he enjoys with Duma Boko, the UDC leader. This is said to also be unsettling alliance partners.
“The BDP will now use that to campaign against us saying we are a proxy for Khama and we are his hired gun,” confided a worried UDC leader.
The relationship is said to have created a tension between Boko and his deputy Dumelang Saleshando.
“As his running mate, Saleshando was supposed to be always close to the party president just like it was the case with the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and later Ndaba Gaolathe as his running mates,” revealed the source.
The political distance between the two leaders became clear with the arrival of the two aircraft. While the expectation was that Saleshando could have used the other aircraft – all were kept for the exclusive use of Boko.
“Saleshando is very clear regarding the relationship with Khama. He doesn’t want to be associated with a man whom they blamed for the collapse of the economy and suppression of rights of public sector workers,” revealed the source.
It is claimed that while Boko had attempted to put the brakes on the relationship with Khama, the former President has not kept his distance.
Highly placed sources have revealed that Khama facilitated some of the funders for the UDC presidency in his determination to ensure that BDP loses the 2019 General elections. UDC has in the past denied that he has been assisted by former President Khama and rubbished the allegations.
After the motion of No confidence failed to go through, Boko showed his financial muscle by funding the Botswana National Front (BNF) conference which was held at Rakops.
This raised eyebrows among some of the BNF Central Committee members who questioned why the funds could not be channeled through the party treasurer rather than being controlled by the party president.
BNF Treasurer Noah Salakae confirmed that party President informed them about the funds but said he was not the one in charge of it.
Recently when addressing BDP members in Serowe, Khama said if Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi does not win at the BDP elective congress, they must consider voting UDC in the 2019 general elections.
Last week Khama threw the UDC leadership into political dizziness when he sang political praise lyrics for Botswana Congress Party ((BCP) Vice president Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang at a handover ceremony in Ramokgonami.
This irked Saleshando who denied that Khama endorsed Gobotswang.
“I listened to the speech by former president Khama when he officially handed over a house to a resident of Ramokgonami. He acknowledged Gobotswang's role in charity activities and pledged that he was available to assist in such activities. Suggestions that the statement amounts to support for his parliamentary campaign are misplaced,” he wrote.
Gobotswang is contesting against Khama’s archrival Dorcas Makgato for the Ramokgonami/Sefhare constituency.
After Gobotswang, Khama was at Goodhope/Mabule constituency at the invitation of the UDC councilor for Pitsane. The former CEO of Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) Dr Patrick Molotsi is contesting against BDP’s Eric Molale – Khama’s former Permanent Secretary.
Molale is one of the politicians that Khama feels betrayed him after he stepped down as Head of State and wants to see the end of their political career. He has already shown support to former deputy Speaker Pono Moatlhodi who is taking on his former confidante Thapelo Olopeng for the Tonota constituency. Khama has had a very close relationship with Olopeng for many years until recently when fell out over Olopeng’s support for Masisi.