FRANCISTOWN: The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) tomorrow goes to tsecond set of primaries to select candidates for the 2019 general elections.
There is however, fear that episodes of infighting and factionalism might dominate BDP politics post the primaries like in the past.
Political commentator, Ndulamo Morima is amongst those who strongly believe that the outcome of the weekend primaries, known as Bulela Ditswe, are likely to mark the beginning of strong fissures in the BDP leading to the 2019 general elections.
“We are likely to see a situation where if those who are not pro-President Mokgweetsi Masisi lose elections they will accuse the President and his perceived acquaintances of swaying the elections in their favour. There are already allegations that Masisi has his own preferred candidates at the primaries. This could ultimately worsen infighting within the BDP after the primaries,” he said.
Morima believes that rifts might occur should some incumbent lose the primaries. “Rifts may occur not necessarily because there was cheating but because their loss was unexpected.”
He said the sensible approach is for the party to ensure post Bulela Ditswe, there is concerted effort by the leadership to promote unity and provide counseling to losers immediately after the primaries.
“The BDP is prone to fighting before and after the primaries. The party often claims that it provides counselling to candidates to prepare them for any eventuality, but I do not think it does that effectively. The best approach after the primaries would be to appoint professional counsellors and apply powerful counselling services to losers as well as a conflict resolution plan,” Morima said.
According to Morima, almost all political parties in the country undermine the importance of counselling during their respective primaries.
He stated that at times those who are assigned to provide counselling are BDP members who are not professionals in the field, which is why it is often hard for the party to effectively deal with the aftermath of the primaries.
Morima further averred that the party should also encourage its members to seek other alternative professional counselling
Also advocating for counselling is political analyst, Leonard Sesa who is also a lecturer at the University of Botswana.
“The ruling party seem to be casual when it comes to offering counselling to primary election candidates. That is why its primaries often attract a lot of controversy. The BDP should invest a lot in relation to managing conflicts as well as providing robust counselling services to primary election candidates,” he said.
Sesa said that sound counselling initiatives will be of significance, as it will prepare candidates to deal with any outcome of the elections.
Post primary election divisions and factionalism dominate pages detailing the history of the BDP.
When former president, Ian Khama came into the BDP he was seen as a charming figure. Again, as outsider who was not immersed in factions, he was seen as the right candidate who could help kill factionalism in the party.
But problems in the BDP would prove too great for him to deal with. Khama has never presided over peaceful primaries.
Some BDP diehards believe that Masisi might not offer fresh solutions that may end factionalism and problems associated with primaries in the BDP. Leading to the weekend primaries, factions are beginning to form like bubbles within the ruling party.
Additionally, since taking over office, many BDP members believe that Masisi is portraying a picture of someone simply not capable of dealing with factionalism in the party.
There are those in the BDP who believe that Masisi is targeting those who are not loyal to him in order to gain total control of the party. They believe this may spill over to the primaries and afflict the party.
Masisi’s recent decision to suspend former Khama ally Tshephang Mabaila from the ruling party, was viewed by his detractors as nothing but a strategic and well-calculated move to silence dissent in the party and show that he is in control.