4 March 2019

Botswana: BDP Edges Close to Split

The rising threats of cataclysmic bloodshed within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are worrisome for the nation's security and peace, analyst have cautioned.

Though this is a time for the party to elect its executive - from President down the line - the level of hostilities are creating anxieties among the party members and close observers who fear that it might lead to chaos or even a splinter party emerging.

Already former President Ian Khama who supports a faction that wants to unseat President Mokgweetsi Masisi has raised alarm that his life might be endanger because - people want him, his family, friends and even members of his Ngwato tribe buried. This is an ominous warning unheard of in the history of the BDP; and never from a person of former State President.

Political analysts charge that Batswana have every reason to be concerned as tribal tensions and hostilities rise. They warn that the tension between Khama and Masisi is now getting out of control as it seems Khama is hell-bent on taking Masisi out of presidency due to the way his administration has treated him and his close associates. In particular Khama has appeared highly concerned about the treatment meted to his close ally, Isaac Kgosi - the former head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).

Kgosi has been under the public scrutiny following his infamous arrest at the airport in January and searches at his properties that revealed that he commands massive wealth across various sectors. The raids have also been extended to close associates of Kgosi who made acquired vast amounts of wealth from dealing with DISS when he was the head of the organization.

Veteran political scientist Professor Zibani Maundeni says the continuous steeping factions within the ruling party should be a cause for concern for the party leader Masisi and the chairman Slumber Tsogwane who should restore order.

Maundeni said the incumbent president Masisi should stamp his authority by doing away with factionalism plotters within the party.

"BDP should at the moment admit that it has serious problems as a result of the brewing conflicts within the party. There are serious divisions within the party which need to be addressed amicably without any fail as this BDP crisis are by without chance cannot be compromising the national peace," he added.

Maundeni said BDP's internal wars were far from over with new developments emerging all the time. Currently, former Masisi ally, Moyo Guma has joined forces with Khama to support Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi in challenging Masisi for party presidency.

Venson-Moitoi camp convened an unsanctioned party meeting in Serowe last weekend where Guma and Khama led the charge against Masisi's presidency; provoked particularly after Masisi won the Central Region nomination for presidency.

Maundeni warned against a temptation by party leadership to try and expel either Guma or Moitoi, saying this might bring the party into disrepute.

Another analyst Leonard Sesa of the University of Botswana said the widening cracks within the BDP should be a cause for concern for the party, emphasizing that the way events unfold show that the party could suffer another split.

Sesa warned that the feud in the BDP was also dividing the country into north and south zones, adding the fight is premised on the issue of popularity against power amongst the warring parties.

"The intra-party conflicts in the BDP are not new with the Masisi administration because there were factions during Masire, Mogae and Khama's era himself. However what is worrying is that the current factions are being brewed by the former party leader Ian Khama. He (Khama) of course has the numbers behind him but Masisi is fighting for his respect as the party leader and president in power. I rule out possibility of peace for now based on how the tensions are brewing further," added the UB academic.

Sesa said the storm might cool down after the party's special congress slated for 5th April at Kang at which the party will elect the president between Masisi and Venson-Moitoi.

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