Millionaires battle for BDP treasurer
The position of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) treasury has for the longest time seemed to be a position tailor made for those with deep pockets and for the first time in the history of the party, it has emerged, the position will be hotly contested by those with equal finacial clout.
The BDP’s definitive elective congress will be held in July and besides the hotly contested party chairmanship seat, the race for the treasurer’s position is also up for grabs and Dada has confirmed to this publication that he will not be defending his position.
Dada relinquishes from the BDP treasury at a critical time when the party accounts are said to be in a bad shape, owing to the P35 million spent on last year elections and overdrafts accumulating to P5 million from the 2009 elections.
This comes following an outcry that the party treasury committee has failed to collect debts owed to the party from current and ex-members and also that Dada and his committee should account to the millions the BDP spent during last year’s elections, sources have said.
Party insiders have alluded that there is a general discord that Dada alone has been closely managing the BDP finances for years and only him knows their status, who the funders are and how the money gets to be used. “There is a general feeling that a lot of money has been misappropriated during the last elections and you can tell by the aggression in the move to replace him as treasurer.”
It is against this notion, that opportune moneyed businessmen Farouk Ismail of Choppies Group and former CA Sales owner Jagdish Shah of Township Rollers are said to be front runners in the race for this influential position.
Jagdish had confirmed that he has been nudged to contest while sources within the party whispered that the move is motivated by those who were disgruntled by the election results and the finances spent by Dada and his team to finance an election that bore an embarrassing decline in votes.
Ismail played his cards close to his chest when quizzed on whether or not he is interested to contest for the position.
He denied having shown any interest and maintained that he was just a businessman who is not aligned to any party.
“I have just arrived from overseas, I have no idea what you are talking about and I am not getting into politics,” he said abruptly.
Despite this, sources allude that the Masisi camp allegedly know the Third Force, which is constituted of Tati East MP Guma Moyo, Lobatse Mp Sadique Kebonang and most of Khama’s men is strongly rallying behind Farouk Ismail.
Ismail is the founder and deputy chairman of the P4 billion worth enterprise, The Choppies Group adding weight to the contention that the BDP treasury seat is for well off individuals who could rescue the party in rough financial times as Dada often did.
Guma Moyo who is also a wealthy businessman cum politician is said to be eyeing the position of Deputy Treasurer within the Farouk team. Within this money team that is slated to topple Dada, is Kebonang who is an Executive Director of the Choppies Group.
Investigation into the accounts
However, not only did the BDP win the 2014 elections but it emerged badly wounded with unimpressive results, a steep decline in the popular vote and a painful loss of eight parliament seats to opposition.
Sources inform this publication that the party instituted an investigation into some of the well known key people around BDP’s financial coffers over an issue relating to how the reported P35 million of campaign funds were misused. Botswana Gazette has seen information that suggests that the some of the bank accounts of these people (names withheld) had been frozen pending the investigations.
Asked to account for the monies spent, combined with a tumultuous election year that 2014 was, with an aggressive opposition and corruption perception within government, seems to be enough for Dada, a party insider observed. He related that the party had to manage its dirty linen being aired in public while at the same time focus on winning the elections last year.
Although Dada tells The Botswana Gazette that he will be retiring because he wants to give other people a chance, allegations that the new challengers are aggressively pushing for Dada and his finance team to account for the P35 million spend to the party seem to be abuzz.
Despite the BDP showing symptoms of a party on the verge of disintegration, the stepping down of multimillionaire Dada as the longest serving party treasurer has left rife conjecture about the confidence of BDP big wigs in the path the party has taken since President Ian Khama’s rule and the financial strength the party now has to exert to challenge a daringly tough opposition.
Dada said he was also not aware of who the aspirants for the treasury position are but stated that managing the party finances was not an easy task. It is said that apart from an individual with deep pockets, the position of the party treasurer seeks a strategist with wide business connections and knows how to raise money for the party. Having served three consecutive presidents, Dada has been somewhat of a talisman and held the purse strings tightly and is allegedly accused of having not been open about the party books and their proper accounting.
How the P35 million was spent
Information seen by The Botswana Gazette has revealed how the ruling party, in its battle to remain in power grossly blew P35 million leaving an enormous deficit of P21 million unaccounted for, forcing the party treasury to appeal to BDP members to cover the short fall.
The party incurred a total of P9.9 million as election expenses, P6.7 million as legal and consultancy expenses which sources among other things tie to the costly strategy of engaging an Israeli company with ties to Mossad, Timor Consulting to help win the elections. “This did not come cheap as BDP footed a bill close to P13 million for the services,” insiders have said.
In its financial statements the BDP has recorded costs of over P3 million for printing and stationery while its advertising costs stood at P809 000. The executive committee, this publication is informed, has been dragging a debate about the difference between the two costs and what the treasury defined ‘advertising’ as.
“You would have expected printing costs to fall under advertising costs but it remains ambiguous also because there is something labeled as financial costs which amounts to P1.6 million,” one of the insiders quizzed rhetorically.
There is no clear breakdown and accounting of this expenditure as far as the treasury committee’s report goes, a source nitpicked.
It is under the backdrop of these embattled finacial woes that the Secretary General Mpho Balopi issued a notice that the party will be engaging in a restructuring exercise entailing reducing of workforce and having the executive committee fund their own travel and accommodation expenses.