In the wake of the defection of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane, from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) on Tuesday, MMEGI Staffer LEBOGANG MOSIKARE canvassed two University of Botswana (UB) Political Science experts who are of the view that Moswaane has the right to associate and disassociate.
FRANCISTOWN: While it is a truism that Moswaane’s defection from the BDP is a bitter pill to swallow for some of his constituents and general BDP members across the country, lecturers Adam Mfundisi and Dr Leornard Sesa from Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the UB say the MP has done nothing wrong but has merely exercised his constitutional right of associating with and dissociating from the organisation he voluntarily joined.
When asked what may have prompted Moswaane, who for now has not joined any opposition party although rumours are abound that he is likely to join the Botswana Congress Party which is an affiliate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), to defect from the BDP, Mfundisi was blunt in his opinion.
“It was forthcoming that Moswaane will at some point leave the BDP and join the opposition bloc although for now he has not joined any. You will remember that towards the general elections last year, there were rumours that he may be suspended from the party because of his outspokenness, which rankled the powers that be within the BDP. This is coupled with the fact that his launch was postponed until President Mokgweetsi Masisi later launched him. These to me were signs that the BDP did not want him within its ranks,” said Mfundisi.
According to Mfundisi, Moswaane is a true representative of his voters and Batswana at large who is forthright and not afraid to speak his mind. The UB politics pundit also posits that although Moswaane was a member of the BDP, the legislator did not did not go to Parliament to advance the interests and aspirations of his party only but those of Batswana as a whole.
“In terms of articulating the needs of his voters he did so without fear of repercussions from the BDP. On the other hand, you may think that he was a loose cannon who spoke without knowing the limits of his boundaries. Moswaane used to speak without even following the internal procedures and or processes of the BDP, which one must follow when they want to air the grievances. Some within and outside the BDP suspected that he was not a true member of the party,” said Mfundisi.
Mfundisi continued: “I also think that because Moswaane may have differed with the BDP caucus, he became a hated figure within then party.
But all in all, we need people like Moswaane who are not afraid of putting national interests ahead of partisan interests. Moswaane is not like most ruling party MPs who put party interests at the expense of their constituents. Moswaane is also a true representative of the have-nots that is why it is not surprising that he got into a collision course with his peers within the BDP who are protecting the interests of the elites. In my opinion there is no intra-party democracy in the BDP.”
Quizzed if Moswaane feared that he may lose his seat if he remained within the BDP should the floor crossing bill become law coupled with the fact that he was already on suspension before he defected, Mfundisi noted: “The floor crossing bill is a preemptive sign that there is strife within the BDP. Once the bill is passed into law, it is going to constrain elected members of the BDP both at council and parliament level from differing with their party.”
Clarifying the position he stated above, Mfundisi said that people are disgruntled with the BDP because they can see that it wants to prevent them from exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Mfundisi was also of the view that the nation will likely see more defections from the BDP particularly from the north of Dibete and a few from the south before the bill is passed into law. Another UB Political Science Lecturer Sesa also expressed Mfundisi’s sentiments.
He said that just like every citizen of Botswana, Moswaane has the right to exercise his constitutional right of associating and dissociating from the BDP because he voluntarily joined it. Sesa said that despite the fact that Moswaane is a controversial MP, he is a true representative of the people who also researches about what he say.
In Sesa’s view, Moswaane deserves to be selected to the position of assistant minister and even a minister because he researches what he says…
However, Sesa is worried that Moswaane just like some elected MPs and councillors in the past may have not fully consulted his constituents before he took the decision to defect from the BDP.
When quizzed what may have influenced Moswaane to jump ship from the BDP, Sesa said: “I think that Moswaane thought that by writing a letter notifying it that he was leaving, he thought that the letter will make the BDP to buckle under his pressure but the BDP did not budge. He thought that the BDP will lift his suspension after he wrote the letter but that did not happen…”
The UB politics expert said that Moswaane should also learn that every organisation has procedures and or processes that one has to follow if they voluntarily join that organisation.
“If Moswaane joins any opposition party in Botswana, it will show him that there are some channels of communication that one has to follow when they want to air their views. Just like in the BDP, Moswaane is going to be constrained to say whatever he wants to say should he join the opposition bloc. Going forward, I think that he is gong to struggle because he will not be allowed to say whatever he wants to say,” Sesa clarified.
Asked if the public may witness other defections from the BDP before the floor crossing bill is enacted into law, Sesa said that he is disappointed by the utterances of the opposition who had told the public that there was going to be more defections from the BDP but up to now only Moswaane has defected.
“The opposition kept on saying that they had numbers who were going to defect from the BDP especially from the backbench but up to now nothing has happened. He said that what is even disappointing is the fact that if the nation was going to see more defections for the BDP, those who may defect will be taking a unilateral decision because they had not fully consulted their voters,” said Sesa.