President Mokgweetsi Masisi outsmarted Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to come through the centre and seize the nomination of the Central Region — an endorsement that to most was sure bet for Venson-Moitoi to get.
A Central region endorsement was expected to inspire Venson-Moitoi’s campaign for leadership of the party and country – moreso that she enjoys the support of former President Ian Khama – the paramount chief of Bangwato whose power and influence is predominant throughout the central district.
Khama triggered this revolt but lost control of it in a tragicomic farce in his own backyard when Venson-Moitoi lost by 49 votes to 86. Now the whole region and close political observers across the country have been thrown into a soul searching feat to determine what could have gone so terribly wrong with her campaign. A meeting – called by elders in the region; a structure that does not exist in the party – is set for today (Sunday) at Lady Khama Centre to deal with get to the bottom of this debacle.
Will Khama attend?
Former President Ian Khama, who was not present at last weekend regional congress, is expected to attend the Sunday event and address members of the party.
One of the organisers of the meeting councilor Thabala/Moiyabana councilor Kadimo Oremeng said he could not confirm whether Khama will attend.
“Yes, he has been invited but am not sure if he will attend,” he said.
Oremeng said when they were invited for the regional congress last week, nothing was mentioned about holding elections; hence the elders have summoned them.
“Someone stood from the floor and nominated the name of President Masisi as presidential candidate and I also nominated Moitoi. We were shocked when they called for elections,” said Oremeng.
Who are the elders?
He said after the congress party elders called them and wanted to know why they didn’t tell them that they will be elections.
Asked who the party elders are, Oremeng was cagey with information choosing to say “from all the constituencies making the region.” He said though they accepted the results on Saturday party elders in the constituency have summoned them to a meeting on Sunday to know what transpired.
Though the meeting will be for BDP members, Oremeng said it will be outside the structures as it was not sanctioned by the party.
It has emerged that the meeting will not only be for Central region members but other members of the Moitoi camp will attend.
The ambush – happened at Palapye
On Friday when delegates from the central region, which comprises the three Serowe constituencies, Nata/Gweta and Nkange constituencies, met in Serowe for their congress, it was clear Moitoi will get the nod.
The real political game was said to be playing itself out in Palapye where some delegates were lodging and Masisi camp capitalised on that.
Among the delegates was the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, who is also Member of Parliament for Boteti West, and was regarded as having no threat or influence in the congress.
“The greatest mistake was to undermine Tsogwane and this is where they lost the plot on Friday night,” revealed a source who attended the long night of knives called by Masisi’s camp as the gambit worked.
The Moitoi camp had the numbers from all Serowe constituencies and some from Nata/Gweta and was sure that when elections came they would get the nod. The only worry for the camp was that former MP for Serowe South Tebelelo Seretse had the support of the councilors from the constituency.
Seretse has recently publicly declared her support for President Masisi brought her influence to bear in the constituency.
“We were shocked when the results came out and didn’t see this one coming,” decried a delegate from Serowe South.
THE GAME CHANGERS IN CENTRAL REGION
Goabamong Steady Setlhaba
The real shock to the camp which left even their godfather numb was when Goabamong Steady Setlhaba stood up and nominated President Masisi as well as calling for the deferment of the elective congress.
Sethaba was the constituency administrator for Khama from 1998 until 2008. The two were very close. For a long time the camp assumed that he was on their side until he showed his allegiance at Serowe College of Education where the congress was held.
Still nursing her political wounds inflicted on her in the party’s primary elections in Serowe South, Seretse realigned herself and declared her support for the incumbent president Masisi.
One of the reasons why she didn’t support Venson-Moitoi’s presidential ambitions was that she didn’t support her when she challenged Masisi for the party chairpersonship in 2015 at Mmadinare Elective Congress. A political schemer of note, Seretse played a pivotal role in ensuring that Masisi got the nomination in the Central Region, especially within the three Serowe constituencies.
A campaigner par excellence, Tsogwane brought down Venson-Moitoi’s camp on their own backyard last weekend. Those close to him describe him as a very assertive, combative and constantly hitting off the front foot. He displayed that last weekend against the much fancied camp.
When he was appointed the Vice President, many political pundits said he was too cold and quiet for the position. Tsogwane rarely speaks. Recently some MPs from the ruling party called on him to address the impasse between President Masisi and Khama.
Those close to him say he is smart politician who knows when to strike and when to hold his artillery. On Friday and Saturday he proved his mettle when he ensured that the most treasured and game changing region supported his boss.
WHO ARE THE PARTY ELDERS?
He has publicly stated that his support for Venson-Moitoi and is regarded not only as a party elder but paramount chief of the region. He is expected to address the gathering.
One of the country’s longest serving councilor, Raditanka is one the campaign managers for Venson-Moitoi campdue to his vast experience within the party. The 65-year-old politician has been a councillor for 40 years. He was the chairperson of Central District Council (CDC) for 10 years before he lost Peter Williams in 2014.
Atamelang Thaga –Serowe Central ward councilor
He is said to be one of the purported elders who have called for meeting to map way forward and know why Venson-Moitoi lost in the region. Thaga is a former Information Officer for BDP Youth Wing who served during the late Gomolemo Motswaledi’s tenure as the chairperson of the wing.
Former councilor in Selibe-Phikwe, Padi is said to be one of the elders who are not happy with the results.
He is the husband to Venson-Moitoi and though he only joined the BDP recently from Alliance Progressives, he is said to have moved up the ladder quickly and found himself among party elders. The invitation sent to the media bore his name as one of the people to be contacted regarding the Sunday meeting.