FRANCISTOWN: Factionalism demons that have devoured the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in recent months once again plagued the party over the weekend in a rally led by Vice President (VP) Slumber Tsogwane in Francistown South.
The constituency is one of the areas that are usually filled to capacity during BDP rallies, but this time around the attendance was below par.
There were many unoccupied patches of space at the rally, which is unusual for high profile BDP rallies or events in the area. Even the morale at the gathering was not at its highest compared to previous activities.
At the rally it became apparent that the factors that influenced the seemingly low turn out were the internal factionalism and succession struggles between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, former president Ian Khama. A majority of those seen to be backing Khama reportedly shunned the rally because of an assumption that the current BDP rallies are mainly held in areas of those seen to be pro-Masisi. Through the rallies, Masisi is reportedly trying to solidify his grip on the party.
Meanwhile, at the rally Tsogwane shot down suggestions that Masisi is not the legitimate president of the party. He said as per his interpretation of the BDP constitution, Masisi is the legitimate president of the party.
“Those who want to go to court will go to court, but Masisi is the rightful president of the BDP. We will not be given a president by the court. It is not our tradition and culture,” he said.
Kamal Jacobs recently dragged the party, its secretary general, Mpho Balopi and its president Masisi before court, arguing that Masisi is not a
Jacobs’ reason for the withdrawal was that he wanted to cite Khama in the case as his witness. He said Khama was the only one who could explain to court about the BDP procedure on the matter.Jacobs argued that decisions made by Masisi in his capacity as the president are not valid as he is in the position illegitimately.
One such decision was the establishment of a working committee of the BDP central committee to investigate and recommend solutions on Bulela Ditswe appeals and grievances.
The committee ruled against Jacobs’ appeal of the BDP primary outcomes in which he had lost to Thapelo Matsheka in Lobatse.
Tsogwane also invited a faction reportedly hatching a plan to topple Masisi to come forward and try to open dialogue with the party leadership.
A BDP faction going by the moniker ‘New Jerusalem’ is reportedly hatching a plan to topple Masisi. The group is allegedly associated with former president Khama. Some MPs have been linked to the faction.
“They should come forward and open dialogue with the leadership with a view of solving whatever problem they may have with the party, which might have led to the formation of the faction if at all it (faction) does exist,” he said, adding that members should shun factionalism and focus on the party’s bid to win the 2019 general elections.