In has emerged that the suspended nine BDP National Youth Executive Committee(NYEC) members are likely to be expelled due to their apparent disaffection with Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi’s faction which is currently controlling the ruling party.
These claims which are now rife at Tsholetsa House come after President Ian Khama who has made it known publicly that he is an ally of his successor Vice President Masisi, made mass suspensions last week, setting aside nine members of the NYEC. This move, according to insiders, is a grand plan by Masisi and his allies using President Khama to remove possible remnants of a faction which supported cabinet minister Nonofo Molefhi in the last BDP national congress which was held two months ago.
“These youths are seen as anti-Masisi and the chairman does not take opposition very well. He will purge them out and remain with those he can trust or those who are loyal. Their move to suspend Mavange (Simon Moabi) was seen as a coup by those against the chair, trying to take over the youth wing,” said a source.
What has allegedly made many curious inside the BDP is the Central Committee’s immediate intervention and onslaught condemning a NYEC Extra Ordinary meeting which was convened last week Monday to fire youth wing leader Simon Moabi. After the condemnation by the party on Monday afternoon, all the NYEC members who convened to that meeting were given 60 days suspension by Khama last week Friday except Councilor Tuelo Metseyabeng.
According to a letter addressed to one member, the NYEC members were suspended for “behaving in a grossly disorderly and unruly manner that might put the party name into disrepute, sowing seeds of discord in the party using regionalism, tribalism or factionalism and contemptuous behavior towards party leadership and other members.”
However, the suspended youth leader argued that their suspension was not fair since they were evoking NYEC Rules and Regulations which allow removal of an inefficient member. Moabi was removed because he was seen as corrupt and chairing unconstitutional NYEC meetings while he fails to convene executive meetings and sidelines other members, soliciting funds without due process, favouring his faction for appointments into the party’s boards and further dividing the youth wing according to the suspended NYEC members. They also accused Moabi of being incompetent and unfairly demoting NYEC treasurer Bruce Nkgakile for allegedly misusing P27 000 which was supposed to be used for procuring furniture for youth wing offices.
The Botswana Gazette understands that as soon as Moabi was ousted, new furniture was bought. The suspended youth allege that Moabi had been refusing to buy new furniture and claimed that the money which was supposed to be used for furniture was allegedly misappropriated by Nkgakile. This was after BDP was charged for storage money after furniture was bought then held at a furniture shop (name withheld) for months according to information seen by this publication.
Moabi is said to be enjoying special treatment as he is one of chairman Maisi’s closest allies. Nkgakile is said to have once been demoted to be an ordinary position of additional member through Rule 7(vi) of the NYEC Rules and Regulations as he was said to be ineffective after misappropriating funds. It is understood that Nkgakile complained to the Central Committee but was ignored. However, when the same rule was evoked on Moabi, he complained and the party was quick to condemn the meeting which fired him, releasing statements subsequently suspending those who fired him. In the letters of suspension nothing is mentioned of any member misinterpreting the BDP Constitution as alluded by party Secretary General Mpho Balopi who said in an interview with this publication that no one but only the president can fire or suspend a member. Balopi also said complaints about Nkgakile were brought to their attention suggesting he did not have any problem with his demotion, except Moabi’s expulsion.
“Moabi proposed that Bruce (Nkgakile) be demoted and we all agreed and he was removed from the treasury. Then last week we made a resolution that Moabi should be fired and Bruce reinstated on the same grounds like those that fired Nkgakile. Moabi set a precedent and we followed it, but the second time the party leadership intervened and we were suspended. The whole NYEC should be suspended for the two meetings,” said a suspended member who commented anonymously.
Another suspended member said he believed the decision to suspend them was “too harsh”. The member is of the view that mediation could have been made by party leadership, not suspensions. According to the member selective justice was done by victimizing those who were seen to be anti-Masisi.
Balopi who is one of the biggest players in NYEC suspensions was part of the moneyed lobby list that won all the central committee position. Masisi led the team and pitted Balopi against Botsalo Ntuane who was the favourite. In the last National Congress Masisi’s team won all the top positions and did not make anyone from Molefhi’s lobby list an additional member. This was criticised by political pundits who said it will alienate the losing team even further. Masisi wanted a stranglehold on the youth wing and his ally Moabi won the top position of chairman despite most of pro-Molefhi members winning almost all the top positions.
“We did not support VP (Masisi) in Tonota (National Congress) but that was because he (Masisi) he had taken sides in Tsabong (youth wing congress) and we owed those who supported us in Tsabong support in Tonota,” said another suspended member.
The member said they are not in any faction and leadership is holding a grudge against them for not being on Masisi’s side in Tonota.
Moabi is also criticized for being incompetent and not fluent in local languages. He is said to be a Masisi puppet which is going to be used to control the youth wing. According to a source Masisi will be happy to give Moabi a free reign as almost all the additional members who are pro-Masisi will be co-opted to senior positions while they get rid of the nine who are currently suspended.
Another suspended member Nkgakile who has been dogged by controversies ever since becoming a treasurer in February is believed to be a target because he is eying the same parliamentary seat that will be contested for by Khama’s blue eyed boy Tshephang Mabaila. Nkgakile wishes to beat Mabaila for Mogoditshane Constituency parliamentary elections primaries. However, Nkgakile is reported to have been vetted out. His 60 days suspension comes as the last nail in his parliamentary aspirations because the primaries will be held while he is still serving his suspension.
Fresh information received on Monday is that another anti-Masisi member Youth Secretary who is a permanent employee at Tsholetsa House, Masego Baitseng, has been suspended. She is one of the longest serving BDP employee and is said to be pro-Khama but a Masisi antagonist. Baitseng is believed to be victimized in the current ongoing clean-up campaign by Masisi to remove those who do not support him. It is said even Masisi knows almost the whole staff at Tsholetsa House are against him save for one worker whose name is withheld.
Out of frustration, about two suspended youth wing members are set to quit politics. Some are rumoured to be on their way of joining the new opposition party led by Ndaba Gaolatlhe which is expected to be launched next week. This publication has seen youth showing their disgruntlement in BDP youth secretive groups as they are not happy their leaders have been suspended. Others are in a celebratory mood like in one voice clip believed to be the voice of Bonolo Ratlhapi who is saying leadership should be bootlicked. He also chants happily the names of those suspended suggesting they deserved it since they “disrespected leadership.”
One former youth NYEC member and one of the most respected BDP activists said the suspension of NYEC member is a first of its kind and does not know what the outcome will be. “If they apologize they might get a warning,” said the activist who did not think the NYEC members will be purged. Some believe Khama and Masisi want the youngsters to be frustrated or scared so that when they come back they may “sort of apologize and pledge allegiance to Masisi”. After that they will “be like the rest”, observers said. Khama is also believed to be in a mission to ‘smoothen things’ for his successor who is “not much of a respected figure like him at BDP.”
BDP Communication and International Relations Sub Committee Chairman Fish Pabalinga who authored the nine suspension letters was not available for comment before press time as his phone was unreachable while Nkgakile has dismissed some allegations leveled against him.