Mmegi Online :: Mmolotsi: The pros and cons of forming a new party
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Monday 19 August 2019, 18:00 pm.
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Mmolotsi: The pros and cons of forming a new party

FRANCISTOWN: There is heightened debate that the formation of a new political movement in the country will soon come into reality.
By Ryder Gabathuse Chakalisa Dube Fri 15 Sep 2017, 13:41 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Mmolotsi: The pros and cons of forming a new party








The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) members, Wynter Mmolotsi and Ndaba Gaolathe (who are vice president and president in their faction respectively), are leading a bandwagon of those who want to form a new political movement.

This week Mmolotsi came short of saying that the BMD faction affiliated to Gaolathe will certainly go ahead with plans to form a party. The groundwork to form a new party has already been completed.

A local newspaper quoted him as saying  “this week something is about to happen”.

While Mmolotsi was not elaborate, it has been widely speculated that he referred to the formation a new party which, amongst others, is top of their priority areas.

The aggrieved BMD members have in recent months been on a countrywide crusade preaching about the viability of forming a new political party.

Should the development to form a new party come to pass, the country’s political landscape will change.

In addition, as the country’s political landscape undergoes new developments various constituencies might attract the eye of political pundits. Francistown South will definitely be kept on the political radar because of the dynamics playing themselves out there.

For sometime now, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has made several attempts to win Francistown-South from the opposition, to no avail. Even President Ian Khama at one point made clear his desire to win the constituency from his longtime critic, Mmolotsi.

In the last general elections, the BDP fielded former Francistown mayor, Sylvia Muzila who was considered a strong candidate but Mmolotsi prevailed.

To many, the formation of a new party might present the ruling party with a perfect opportunity to regain the constituency in 2019. Their position is backed by a wide perception that new parties are usually confusing to the voters and often struggle to take off.

However, against Mmolotsi the usually financially strong BDP may still face an uphill battle to win the constituency.

The legislator has proven over time that he is a good mobiliser and can pull a significant amount of voters. Mmolotsi is not only a great orator. He is also a grassroots politician who mingles well with the hoi polloi. He showed that element when the BMD defeated the BDP at the Phillip Matante East by-election last year.

Mmolotsi was amongst those who left the BDP to form the BMD and adapted well in the opposition bloc. He went on to win the 2014 general election silencing the doubting Thomases that had declared that he would not be able to regain the seat he had won under the BDP ticket.

Certainly, Mmolotsi has exhibited signs that he has the political stamina to cope with the challenges of a new political party after pioneering at the BMD in 2010. He is amongst the founding members of the BMD, but the nagging question is whether he still has the

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energy to effectively market a new party in the event it sees light of the day.

Come 2019, Mmolotsi will have to prove his mettle as the troubles engulfing the BMD have left the ruling BDP operatives salivating that there is no better time than now to topple Mmolotsi out of the constituency and the remnants of the BMD.

Khumongwana Maoto, Modiri Lucas and Ladimo Dikomang will contest the BDP primaries next month.

Reports coming from the BDP camp show that, the trio believe that winning the BDP ticket will be as simple as winning the constituency from the opposition.

Buoyed by instability in the BMD, the BDP cadres have taken the war to the BMD, hoping to score political points this time around. They are hopeful. They will indeed make a comeback, as their view is that they are dealing with a weakened BMD shattered by factional divisions currently rocking the party.

There is also generally an atmosphere of loyalty towards Mmolotsi in the constituency. This is borne out of the fact that he is considered a hard worker in Parliament. To the voters, he is an embodiment of a true politician and this may earn him votes in 2019.

It’s however, unclear at this juncture whether the new party will align to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which is a coalition of opposition parties wanting to oust the ruling BDP from power through votes in 2019.

But assuming that a new party is formed, there are fears that Mmolotsi may lose depending on how the public will receive the new party and judge the candidate under a new party ticket.

There are those who believe that apart from confusing voters, some members who are opposed to the formation of the new party might decamp to other UDC faction-led by advocate Sidney Pilane or rejoin the BDP, which will consequently weaken Mmolotsi’s third straight parliamentary bid.

Already some elders have reportedly threatened to leave the party. There are voters who subscribe to a school of thought that opposition unity is the only tool that can remove the BDP from power. Fragmentation of opposition parties therefore, is viewed as a reversal of the progress the opposition parties under the ambit of the UDC, have made by far.

Should Mmolotsi and his team form a new party, those who do not subscribe to the idea may punish them. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was brutally punished for shunning opposition unity at the 2014 general elections. Some people are not excited by the idea of a new party.

Unless the new party secures a strong financial backing, it may not have enough time to raise funds and mobilise resources to effectively compete at the general elections which are due in about two years’ time. This may work against Mmolotsi’s re-election bid.

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