• Accused of lobbying MPs to vote against Masisi
• MPs report him to Masisi
• Accused of rumour mongering and factionalism
• Accused of disorderly and unruly behaviour
In a move that illustrates President Mokgweetsi Masisi resolute intent and no holds barred approach to his predecessor, Ian Khama and his allies, Masisi has suspended one of Khama’s blue eyed boys, Tshephang Mabaila from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Mabaila is the BDP’s designated candidate to run against Alliance for Progressives (AP) incumbent Hon. Sedirwa Kgoroba in Mogoditshane.
The Botswana Gazette is in possession of a letter signed by President Masisi and addressed to Mabaila informing him of the decision to suspend him from the party for sixty (60) days pending disciplinary hearing. In the letter, dated August 7, Masisi mentions that Mabaila made utterances to MPs Dr Alfred Madigele and Sethomo Lelatisitswe on July 10th, 2018; the date on which leader of opposition Duma Boko tabled a parliamentary motion of “No Confidence” against President Masisi.
Among the array of charges proffered against Mabaila is that he promoted the interests of other parties against the BDP by mobilising both opposition members and BDP members to vote in support of Boko’s motion.
‘‘I have determined that this is one of the exceptional circumstances in which I should exercise the powers conferred upon me as Party President as contemplated by Article 34.1.6 of the BDP constitution and consequently, I hereby suspend you with immediate effect as a member of the Party,’’ Masisi stated in the letter.
Investigations carried out by this publication reveal that some BDP members who were approached by Mabaila to support Boko’s motion went behind his back and reported him to Masisi. ‘‘You will remember that there was a lot of suspicion that Boko’s motion was sponsored by Khama or at least had his blessings so when Mabaila, a close ally of Khama, went around lobbying for support on the motion, it cemented the speculation on Khama’s involvement,’’ one of the BDP MPs who claims to have been approached by Mabaila told this publication.
At the time of Boko’s motion, some BDP members accused Boko of doing other people’s bidding. Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Fidelis Molao said Boko was a hired gun who is being used by undisclosed persons. “The mover of this motion is a dangerous fellow who should never be allowed near the seats of government. He is manipulative,” he had said during the debate in parliament. Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi described Boko’s motion as a desperate one by a desperate man. “Since when has he started loving President Khama? When the devil starts showing a liking towards a Christian, then you have to be suspicious,” Kgathi said in parliament. Boko has denied launching the motion at the bidding of interests and persons outside of the UDC.
In the letter of suspension, Masisi accuses Mabaila of being against him as party president and ordered him to hand over to the Party all property and assets belonging to the Party that are in his possession.
Part of the evidence against Mabaila are letters addressed to the Secretary General from the Branch Secretary dated December 3rd, 2017 and August 2nd, 2018. He is accused of failing to abide by Constitution, Rules and Regulations of the Party which expect him to promote its philosophy, policies and programmes. ‘‘However it is alleged that you have failed to act accordingly and used rumour mongering to castigate other members in your Branch. It is also alleged that you have repeatedly disrespected the Branch Committee and sown seeds of factionalism and further shown that you are against the Party President,’’ Masisi wrote in his letter to Mabaila.
Mabaila faces a litany of charges that include ‘‘behaving in a grossly disorderly and unruly manner that might put the Party name into disrepute contrary to the General Code of Conduct number II, sowing seeds of discord in the Party, using regionalism, tribalism or factionalism contrary to General Code of Conduct number 6 and contemptuous behaviour towards Party Leadership and other members contrary to General Code of Conduct number 7’’.
In an interview with this publication immediately after collecting his suspension letter from the Office of the President on Monday, Mabaila expressed shock at the charges levelled against him.
‘’I don’t even know this MP Lelatisitswe that I’m accused of talking to’’, the youthful businessman-cum-politician said.
The allegations against Mabaila are perceived as a test of strength for Masisi in his effort to assert his control over an increasingly divided party on the eve of the rescheduled Bulela Dintswe, now slated for August 25th, 2018. According to sources within the BDP, a faction has arisen that aims to undermine Masisi’s hold over the party at the primary elections by securing positions for Khama supporters. The former president, Khama, insiders reveal is seeking to rule from the grave by funding and de-campaigning the pro Masisi candidates.