Dorcas Makgato vs Jacob Nkate?
- Search for Balopi replacement gain pace
- ‘I’m just on vacation in Botswana, not for politics’ – Makgato
- ‘I’m not interested at all. There is no truth in that’ -Nkate
- Was Balopi pushed, questions linger on
The race for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General post has been thrown wide open, with names of party stalwarts Ambassador Dorcas Makgato and Jacob Nkate bandied about as potential replacements for Mpho Balopi.
Thje duo are said to be lobbied by different camps to contest for Secretary General Post as factions align themselves ahead of the upcoming congress, sometime in July. The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed that both Nkate and Makgato are considering the invitations to replace the embattled Balopi. In an unexpected turn of events, Balopi announced midweek at a parliamentary caucus that he will not seek re-election as Secretary General of the party at the next BDP congress.
On Friday, BDP Chairman of Communications and International Relations subcommittee, Kagelelo Kentse said candidates cannot start campaigns for the central committee positions before the party makes a call for that. “Currently, the party is yet to open up the campaigns for any of the central committee positions,” Kentse revealed when asked about what is the procedure to be followed by those who want to contest positions.
In addition, he said the BDP central committee will guide and pronounce the dates for the elective congress for positions of the central committee and the national council congress.
Sources inside BDP intimate that Makgato is the preferred candidate by the party leaders President Mokgweetsi Masisi and BDP Chairman Slumber Tsogwane. Makgato in the past enjoyed support of both during her reign as Chairperson of BDP Women‘s Wing. Should Makgato join the race, she will resign he current post as Botswana’s High Commissioner to the Commonwealth based in Australia, the position she was appointed to by Masisi in February 2020.
On the other hand, former BDP Secretary General Nkate is said to be backed by some of the unhappy democrats to contest for the position, likely to be in a lobby list to be backed by Balopi. “The announcement by Balopi to step down as the Secretary General at the congress has come as good music into the ears of Masisi and Tsogwane together with their loyalists who have been targeting the downfall of Balopi. Makgato who returned home from Australia is now in pole position to get blessings of BDP leadership. However, she will still have to meet Masisi and some members of central committee to map the way forward,” said a source close to developments.
Nkate who is also the former BDP Secretary General is said to have been considering to run as independent candidate for the position but now is being pursued by some to join a lobby list. He is alleged to be one of the former MPs who have fallen out with the Masisi camp. Nkate is said to have rubbed Masisi the wrong way when he supported Nonofo Molefhi at the BDP Tonota congress while Masisi was seeking re-election as chairman.
Contacted for a comment on Thursday, the former Sefhare/ Ramokgonami legislator said allegations that she will be contesting for the Secretary General position are just false. She indicated that she remains committed to the civil service as she is still a diplomat in Australia. “I am on a short vacation that is why I am in Botswana. I am still contracted as Ambassador. My contract allows me to be back home after two years and it’s called a mid-tour leave. When the Ambassadors go back to duty, I will also be going back to Australia. There is no way I could be looking for a political office when I am still a contracted civil servant,” said the outspoken Makgato.
Her continued presence in Botswana has sparked speculation that she is positioning herself for a political comeback, following her 2019 loss to Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
In an interview on Friday, Nkate also denied seeking any BDP central committee position. “I am not interested at all for the BDP Secretary General position. There is no truth in that,” he said briefly, declining to be drawn into discussing his political ambitions ahead of 2024 general elections.
Political analyst, Kitso Morekisi said the decision by Balopi not seek re-election will harm BDP as he is a political heavyweight who commands a good following in the party.“It has been imminent that the proposed reforms for were meant to frustrate Balopi and subsequently push him out. It was a political strategy to push him out. As member, he wasn’t going to allow his political career to be tamed,” he said.
However, he said BDP will certainly miss the leadership prowess commanded by Balopi. “Balopi is a political strategist and he commands a lot of respect in the BDP. Given current crop of BDP central committee members and those of the subcommittees, he is way much experienced and the party will miss him when things get tough. He might even dump the BDP,” Morekisi added.
As a way of bringing new reforms, the BDP central committee has resolved that the position of the Secretary General be turned into a full time job at Tsholetsa House. The new BDP Secretary General will no longer hold any other party position. Also, the Secretary General will attend BDP weekly parliamentary caucus meetings.
Balopi is said to have long resisted suggestions that the BDP adopt new reforms for the SG position. Morekisi said the scenario under which Balopi has been forced to jump ship is similar to what former president Ian Khama did to BDP stalwart, Daniel Kwelagobe. “BDP presidents have a way of purging unwamted SGs who are more influential. Khama dealt with Kwelagobe by asking to choose between cabinet and SG office. He later dropped him from his cabinet when he refused to stick to one role. Today, Masisi has also dealt with Balopi with strategy to make the third most powerful position in BDP hierarchy a full time position,” observed Morekisi.