FRANCISTOWN: Those who follow local politics will be quick to attest to the fact that Vain Mamela is one of the people who have never been shy to defend Botswana Congress Party (BCP) policies and values in all platforms at his disposal.
It is not even far-fetched to assume that he has represented the BCP the most in the northern part of the country. During the build-up to the 2014 general elections, Mamela was amongst BCP members who played a starring role as the party went around the country justifying its decision to go at it alone instead of joining an opposition coalition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). At the time, Mamela said the BCP pulled out of the umbrella because it was unreasonable for the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to insist on incumbency when the seven constituencies it holds were a result of defections. At one point he likened the BMD to a Thokolosi.
“The BMD is just like a Thokolosi (Zombie). It is said that this creature will ask for goat meat and when you hand it the meat, it demands beef. When you give it the beef, it wants pork and then mutton. Finally it will demand of you to provide it with human flesh. We cannot work with the BMD and I wish to tell you that the Umbrella is dead and buried,” he said at the time during a rally in Francistown.
He added that the BMD refused to make any concessions to the other parties - the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP). After a defeat at the 2014 general elections, the BCP eventually joined the UDC. Mamela even allowed the BCP to hand Francistown South, a constituency he has often contested in, to the BMD. The move was seen as an act of sheer loyalty to the BCP by the veteran politician.
“Shocked and disappointed at the turn of events,” is how the 57-year BCP firebrand feels.
This follows the announcement that the party has decided to exchange Francistown West constituency with the BMD. The development was confirmed by the party last week. Mamela was to contest the BCP Francistown West primaries with two other party members in a bid to book candidacy for the 2019 general elections. He had already submitted an application to contest the parliamentary primary elections.
“The decision has totally shocked me. Coalitions are very fragile and I do not
“I do not even know why the party decided to give the constituency to the BMD while we were recently told that consultation on the matter was still ongoing.”
Mamela added that some members of the party leadership were recently in Francistown to discuss the exchange of constituencies with the BMD and it was agreed that the BCP central committee will take a decision. The BCP central committee is meeting over the weekend.
“I am totally confused by the latest developments. I do not understand how the decision was taken because the central committee is yet to meet. The central committee is the body that is tasked with taking key decisions for the party. I will wait for the central committee meeting to get more clarity on the issue,” the former Francistown West Member of Parliament (MP) said.
BCP members in Francistown West also described their meeting with some members of the party leadership to discuss the exchange constituencies with the BMD as mere formality. They opined that the party had already taken a decision to hand the constituency to the BMD. Their opinion was substantiated as days later the party announced that it had exchanged constituencies with the BMD although the central committee had been mandated to deliberate on the matter.
There are those who have strongly linked Mamela with an exit from the party he helped establish in 1999. He has strongly been linked to the Alliance for Progressives. He denies the speculation. “I have invested so much time, emotion and resources in the BCP. Despite what has happened I will not quit. I will remain an ordinary member of the party. If the party maintains that the constituency has been given to the BMD I will accept it.
At the end of the day it is all about the party not an individual,” said the party’s former national organising secretary. This week, BCP president Dumelang Saleshando said that to the best of his knowledge, the party thoroughly consulted before exchanging constituencies with the BMD. “I, however, cannot go into detail because this is an internal party matter,” he said.