Botswana: Khama employs divide-and-rule tactic?

botswana_ian_khama_2FRANCISTOWN: Speculation is rife within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that the peace deal between President Ian Khama (pictured) and BDP Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe is infact a divide-and-rule tactic by the former.

BDP insiders, especially those associated with the Barata-Phathi faction, have dismissed the deal between Khama and DK as a non-starter.

Ahead of the general elections on October 16, Khama is reported to have held a secret meeting with his rival DK in Kanye where the two reportedly agreed to end their rivalry or open attacks on each other. Sources say Khama and his inner circle are merely implementing their strategy of divide-and-rule in an endeavour to contain their ‘nemesis’ which is in control of the party after Barata-Phathi swept the boards in the central committee elections last July.

The strategy is to foment a cleavage between Kwelagobe and his faction and win him over to Khama and his inner circle of advisors.

“On the surface of it, it appears ‘DK’ is gearing for peace in the party, but some frustrated members of the Barata-Phathi faction fear that since ‘DK’ has always been targeted by Khama, the latest machinations could be a ploy to totally isolate him as the leader of his faction,” said one source.

Earlier this year, Khama dropped Kwelagobe from his Cabinet for standing up to the President after Khama dropped a sudden ultimatum that BDP members must choose between party positions and ministerial posts. When Kwelagobe and his faction won all elective positions at the BDP congress last July, relations between Khama and Kwelagobe – already unpleasant – took on an outright inimical course.

Khama failed to thank the winning team at the Kanye congress. Enmity heightened when Khama made appointments of additional members of the central committee and other party structures without consulting Kwelagobe’s team.

Barata-Phathi strategist, Botsalo Ntuane, who is also the BDP parliamentary candidate for Gaborone West South, says of the peace deal: “I learnt of the peace deal from the newspapers. If the reports are true, one can only hope that the deal holds.” Ntuane appreciates the fact that as party chairman, ‘DK’s’ meeting with the party president is a matter of course in the discharge of their functions.

“Quite clearly, given the disturbing climate leading to the elections, we expect them to interact regularly to find a solution to the problems afflicting the party,” he says.

But the Executive Assistant of the BDP, Lee Lesetedi, who deputises Executive Secretary Dr. Comma Serema, says he is in the dark about the purported weekend meeting between Khama and Kwelagobe.

“At the party secretariat, I can only confirm that the party held a star rally in Kanye,” says Lesetedi. “But about the purported meeting between Khama and Kwelagobe which has also sealed a peace deal, that’s news to us.”

Quizzed about Khama’s alleged divide-and-rule approach, Lesetedi maintains:”My position is that since I don’t even know that there was any such a meeting between Khama and ‘DK’, I could not possibly know about its purpose.”

Efforts to contact Kwelagobe proved futile when his mobile phone went unanswered though he had earlier promised to talk to Mmegi.

Mmegi Online

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