FRANCISTOWN: Thousands of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) activists and supporters are expected to converge in Francistown on Saturday to attend the party's inaugural manifesto launch and star rally.
Since its formation, the BPF has been pummelled with brickbats from many fronts, especially from its main adversary, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
The BDP has been accusing its splinter party of not having policies and aims that can develop the country and being only hell-bent on helping other opposition parties remove the ruling party from power since the unprecedented fallout of ex-president Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The spokesperson of BPF Justice Motlhabani said that preparations of the manifesto launch in the morning and a rally in the afternoon are going very well as planned and expected. “Our maiden manifesto launch and political rally will be attended by prospective Parliament and council candidates from the 18 constituencies where our party would be competing in the upcoming general elections.
We also expect other well-wishers from all over the country and members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to grace our activities on Saturday. We expect 10,000 or more people to attend our activities on Saturday,” an optimistic Motlhabani said.
Motlhabani also said that the BPF would also use Saturday’s activities to showcase its prospective Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown East, James Kgalajwe, to the masses.
Just like most BPF prospective Parliament and council candidates, Kgalajwe is a former long serving BDP member who defected to the BPF after he lost the BDP primary elections.
At one point, he even served as the Mayor of Francistown. Motlhabani continued: “Our patron Ian Khama would also grace the festivities. Unlike other parties, the BPF enjoys most of its support from rural areas. We expect most people from our rural strongholds to attend the festivities on Saturday because they always follow Khama wherever he addresses political functions. The rural folk are our strategic supporters hence we want to capitalise on their votes during the elections.”
He added: “The president of our party, Biggie Butale, will officially launch our manifesto. The day’s activities will start with a press conference at Tati River Lodge at 11am where we would also use the opportunity to parade Kgalajwe to the people of Francistown. The press briefing would be followed by a massive rally at the Old Francistown Stadium at 1pm”.
Asked what the BPF is doing to attract people from the Francistown region to attend the rally in large numbers, Motlhabani said: “Our team from the Francistown region is currently conducting promotional activities around the region in an endeavour to entice the masses to attend our activities on Saturday”.
Quizzed if they have invited prominent activists from other opposition parties, especially the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) that the BPF has been consorting with, Motlhabani played his cards close to his chest.
He said: “We expect one or two prominent figures from the UDC to attend our activities. I am, however, constrained to reveal the names of people from the UDC who will grace our events because we are still in negotiations with them. We will formalise our negotiations with the UDC very soon”.
Motlhabani also explained that contrary to what some political analysts and people are saying, the BPF was not solely formed to remove Masisi and the
“The BPF is made up of men and women of integrity who love this country very much. We can’t use our energies and family resources just to target one man. Our aim is not individualistic. This is about a bigger vision of transcending Botswana from a de facto one party state to a true quintessential democracy. The time for fresh ideas has come.
The BDP has ruled this country uninterrupted for more than 50 years. What new ideas can the BDP bring that they have not already tried? People need to understand this. Our former president, Khama, is a very clever person, but the BDP wants to discredit him,” Motlhabani thundered.
He added: “When Khama was still in the BDP, he was praised as a hero, but because he is no longer associating with them, they start to reveal certain things that they say he didn’t do well. The BDP is simply pointing itself with a finger on the face for everything it alleges Khama didn’t do well. It is implicated and complicit in everything it alleges Khama didn’t do well”.
“You should remember that Khama spent 20 years at the BDP as a vice president and president. What the BDP is saying about Khama is hypocrisy of gargantuan proportions,” Motlhabani said.
Motlhabani also allayed fears that the BPF would make little or no impact during the elections because its manifesto was launched less than two months before the polls.
He said: “The BPF would make a very significant impact during these coming elections. The days that are left before the polls are held are enough for us to make a meaningful impact. The time that is left is enough for voters to look at and internalise our manifesto. The notion that there isn’t a lot of time is far fetched… Additionally, note that while elections can be determined by manifestos, other factors also come into play”.
Motlhabani added: “The other factor that would determine the upcoming polls would be the hypocrisy of the BDP – they praised Khama during his long stay in the BDP, but all of a sudden, they are now vilifying him saying that he is a monster”.
Giving his opinion about whether the BPF would make any substantial impact or not during the polls because it released its manifesto just on the eve of elections, political analyst Anthony Morima said: “There are no major philosophical differences between the BDP and BPF. The BDP and BPF manifestos are not fundamentally different”.
He added: “Batswana don’t necessarily vote based on what party manifestos say. Whether supporters of our different political parties read their respective parties manifestos is neither here nor there. Our voting patterns are not necessarily based on what voters read from manifestos.
People may vote for a certain political party because of the person who is representing it. In Botswana, voting patterns are also influenced by the love people have for their parties and not necessarily its representatives. Hence some parties are threatening to recall their candidates just on the eve of elections because they know that voters would still vote for their party”.