*NEW JERUSALEM FACTION PLOTS AGAINST THE PRESIDENT
*NEO MOROKA ELECTED TO CHALLENGE MASISI AT BDP CONGRESS
Mutinous plans to dislodge President Mokgweetsi Masisi from his seat before the 2019 general elections have been hatched, highly placed sources within the ruling party have revealed.
A secret meeting that culminated in the election of an interim leadership structure that would replace the current Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee was held in Mokolodi last weekend.
Out of a total of 44 BDP Mps 16 BDP Members of Parliament aligned to former President Ian Khama, atended the clandestine meeting and allegedly elected DeBeers Chairman, Neo Moroka as the preferred candidate to challenge Masisi for presidency at the upcoming BDP congress.
Khama’s faction, which calls itself, ‘New Jerusalem’, emerged following the rift between Khama and his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi which has been playing out in the public domain since Khama stepped down in April.
New Jerusalem members have apparently resolved at the weekend meeting that as part of their strategy to topple Masisi, the BDP must be forced to call for a special congress in March instead of July as is the party’s tradition.
“Some of the names that were touted for the presidency challenge included Tshekedi Khama and Venson Moitoi but in the end a consensus was reached to nominate Moroka on the bases of him being from the southern part of the country,” claimed an inside source.
Moroka is a political veteran who served as Minister of Trade and Industry from 2004 to 2009 under the BDP ticket.
The disgruntled New Jerusalem faction felt that it was safer to have a presidential candidate from the south to avoid fueling the ‘north versus south’ divide which would further stoke the tribalism sentiments already in the public domain following accusations that Masisi has been sidelining northerners while appointing southerners to key positions in government.
According to the source, Moroka would then challenge Masisi for the Presidency at the March congress.
“This will be a first in the history of the BDP to have someone challenging the President for his seat,” the insider noted.
The emerging faction are also said to have discussed the possibility of Masisi expelling them from the party.
“They know that HE will be made aware of their plan and secret meetings, so they decided that should they be fired from the BDP they would form a breakaway party and approach Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to be included in the coalition.
“If they get fired there will be a hung parliament and the partnership with UDC would serve to save the situation,” the source further revealed.
Meanwhile the Masisi faction is also reported not to be resting on their laurels as they continue to work on counter strategies to vanquish the Khama faction.
One of the strategies mulled by the Masisi faction was to postpone the congress until after elections.
“They want to argue that the congress is likely to cause instability within the party. The postponement of the congress would therefore protect their members from the possibility of losing their positions including the Secretary General (SG), Mpho Balopi and the presidency,” the source explained, adding another potential ploy is to call for early elections.
“Early national elections would catch many off guard giving Masisi’s team an edge in the process, ” the source from within posited.
Asked for a comment, Moroka said that he was not interested in politics before abruptly hanging up.
Efforts to extract a comment from the BDP SG, Balopi also failed, as his phone did not go through.
BDP Chief Whip, Liakat Kably however confirmed being aware of the new faction, which he said was not only targeting the president but also central committee positions.
“As a party we are aware of the New Jerusalem group. We even discussed it at the party caucus and we are trying to establish who exactly is behind it,” said Kably.
According to Kably most of the New Jerusalem faction members think too highly of themselves.
“They think that they are superior to other party members! Some of them don’t even have any meaningful contribution to the party anymore and they seem to be eager to give the UDC mileage by dividing the party unnecessarily but we will deal with them accordingly,” vowed the chief whip in conclusion.