Saleshando vows that the BCP will survive defections
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando is a man under immense pressure – his party has of late been rocked by sporadic defections – presumably to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Looking for a shoulder to lean on, the BCP is said to be ready to cushion under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
In a brief interview, Saleshando told this publication that they expect a few more to follow the seven who have already tendered in their resignation letters. “They had secret meetings with the BDP. The BDP financed them to tour the country in pursuit of BCP members. In some instances they pursued BCP candidates from general elections and told them the party does not want them to contest in 2019,” explained Saleshando.
BDP leaders among them Botsalo Ntuane, who is secretary general; Mephato Reatile, a former chairman of the Political Education Committee of the BDP; Botlogile Tshireletso, a member of the central committee; and others have launched a predatory attack on the BCP to justify the strength of the ruling party and their political pedigree in the marathon to the 2019 general election, which without doubt promises fireworks at freedom squares and debate platforms.
The BCP has lost among others former youth leaders and former general elections candidates at parliamentary and council level. The bone of contention within the BCP has been the issue of cooperation with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which vanquished the BCP in the 2014 general election – becoming the main opposition with 17 seats.
Political egos amongst members of the two parties nullified cooperation talks in 2013. The recent victory of the UDC at the Goodhope-Mabule constituency and poor showing by the BCP – preceded by a BCP Kanye congress which ushered in a pro-unity central committee, has pushed the BCP to the edge, and pundits speculate that the 15 year old party can “smell the coffee”.
Saleshando told WeekendPost that his party has long been aware of the BDP henchman tactic of ripping it open and it has targeted “vulnerable” members. Just two years ago, various studies, including some recognised by the United States of America, positioned the BCP as Botswana’s government in waiting. But today the BCP has lost so much weight and commentators are ready to match it to the likes of the Botswana People Party (BPP) and other defunct political organisations.
Saleshando pointed out that they have pin pointed two issues as reasoning for the defections, “they apparently do not accept the outcome of the Kanye congress because they do not accept certain individuals who were elected; secondly they accuse the leadership of underselling the party to the UDC,” he explained.
The BCP President is not surprised that Botsalo Ntuane is at the helm of trying to rattle the BCP, he has never loved the BCP, and he will do all in his comfort to give the public the impression that the BCP is in trouble. However Saleshando expresses confidence that his party has genuine and committed members, who will stand by the party come rain or sunshine. But at the same wavelength, Saleshando is stunned by party loyalists like Lotty Manyapedza, a cadre he has tried to talk out of defection, but without success.
“In fact I have already addressed regions on the recent developments, while the party was trying to be fair to the renegades, the members want them expelled from the party asap,” he said.
In the latest leaked audio between Lotty, Ntuane and other suitors, the former BCP Youth League President can be heard moaning that the BCP has not given him an opportunity to be elevated to higher positions, “ they only see me as a ward person, but I am central committee material”. Saleshando is convinced that the BCP remains a strong brand, choosing to indicate that they have learnt something from the current episode. The BCP itself, is a breakaway party, it split from the Botswana National Front (BNF) in 1998.
The BDP is also on survival mode, and most of the individuals at the helm of uprooting the BCP members are on survival mode. Mephato Reatile is still bruised from the Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency defeat; Ntuane was also battered in the Gaborone Bonninton South seat election.
“They have a point to prove to their political masters, and they have decided to target vulnerable members within the BCP,” said Saleshando. He is of the view that the BDP is fast fading and hopes to save its face through the BCP, “they are not going to succeed, they are a desperate party like Ntuane pointed out in one of the audio tapes,” said the BCP leader. He pointed out that some of those who have left think they are bigger than the party, and they were toxic to the organisation, “we are better without them,” he said.
In the mist of all these, Saleshando admits that they have been aware all along that they may lose some members who are against working with the UDC. He said the BCP is not the first political organisation to lose members to a rival political party, “what matters is how you manage the situation going forward.” He said the BDP is using economic hardships of mostly young people to lure them to their side. “They are promised opportunities and loans through government schemes. This is tantamount to abuse of public funds,” he stressed.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.