FRANCISTOWN: The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership should brace itself for tumultuous times ahead when it runs its second batch of primaries in the party's held 39 constituencies later in the year.
The BDP has set aside August 11 for the second batch of primaries in the constituencies held by the party. This follows January 20, 2018 tumultuous primaries in 10 of the 18 opposition held constituencies.
The party’s primary elections, dubbed Bulela Ditswe, have reduced party leadership’s headache as eight constituencies passed with candidates unopposed.
At Kanye South, Gaborone North, Goodhope/Mabule, Maun West, Selebi-Phikwe West, Gaborone Bonnington North, Gaborone North and Tlokweng, candidates were unopposed. As there was no action in the eight constituencies, no post primaries hullabaloo was reported at the above-mentioned constituencies. There was complete calm.
Christian Nthuba (Gaborone Bonnington South), Kagiso Mmusi (Gabane/Mmankgodi), Mmusi Kgafela (Kgatleng West), Modiri Lucas (Francistown South), Tshephang Mabaila (Mogoditshane), Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri (Molepolole North), Kabo Morwaeng (Molepolole South), Lefhoko Moagi (Ramotswa), Mephato Reatile (Jwaneng-Mabutsane) and Johane Thiite (Ghanzi) have won the party tickets for 2019.
In the above 10 constituencies, the BDP top leadership had received a flurry of protests against the results of the primaries held on January 20 this year.
Instead of responding to the protests, the BDP top leadership chose to sit on the rights of the protesters and instead continued with their defiance and launch of the winners to the chagrin of the protesters.
It was former president, Ian Khama and the party secretary general, Mpho Balopi who started the ball rolling at a party in-house function in Matsiloje where they launched Francistown South parliamentary candidate, Lucas.
This was done in the presence of those who had protested the primaries such as former Member of Parliament (MP), Khumongwana Maoto and former city deputy mayor, Lamodimo Dikomang.
This attitude would later spread to all the constituencies where there were protests.
As if this was not enough, the party went ahead and presented all the candidates to the party at every available opportunity leaving protesters heartbroken.
BDP deputy secretary general, Shaw Kgathi possibly left Francistown a worried man recently after some party operatives expressed their shock at how the party was treating them. He had come to Francistown to give the winning candidates an opportunity to go ahead with the campaigns for the 2019 general elections. Instead, those
Whilst the protesters were waking up to the reality of how the party was treating them, the next day Kgathi aided the delivery of response letters to affected individuals dismissing their protests.
This could be the start of another bitter wrangling of the BDP leadership with its trusted operatives. Elections have generally become a source of disputes within the BDP to the extent that some loyal party members choose to break ranks with their political home to become independent candidates.
Some will choose to reconcile with the party at a later time whilst others join the opposition ranks frustrated by the treatment meted out to them by party leadership. With the party already choked by primary elections contests in only 10 opposition-held constituencies, which are not so lucrative compared to the 39 constituencies held by the BDP, big trouble lies ahead.
The BDP held constituencies are deemed very easy to win, especially in the party’s strongholds hence bitter rivalry post the primaries.
Since the introduction of the Bulela Ditswe primaries, the BDP has raised hundreds of independent candidates at both council and parliamentary levels.
Come August 11, 2018 the BDP should brace itself for another bout of protests, more so that some go into the primaries fully aware of what awaits them, especially the losers. A local newspaper recently quoted Balopi indicating that the January primaries would be used as a yardstick so that whatever mistake or challenge they encountered would be avoided.
He would further be quoted, “our intention was to ensure that two weeks before the next primaries all the challenges would have been addressed”. As if downplaying the problems post recent primaries, BDP communications and international relations chairperson, Thapelo Pabalinga said this week: “We are fully ready for the next batch of primaries and the last Bulela Ditswe primaries went very well”.
He added that the BDP is expecting the next batch of primaries even against the backdrop of protests that have been apparently ‘mishandled’ to be smooth as well.