With long serving Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) president Motlatsi MolapisI destined to relinquish power, three BPP activists have thrown their hats in the ring while others are keeping their cards close to the chest. Mmegi Staff Writer CHAKALISA DUBE and Correspondent LEBOGANG MOSIKARE report
FRANCISTOWN: Molapisi’s announcement during the welcome ceremony of Ignatius Moswaane to the BPP-a constituent party of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over the weekend, opened up the race for the party presidency.
The BPP elective congress will be held this mid-year. One of the aspiring candidates, Cornelius Gopolang told Mmegi that he has long announced his interest to contest for the BPP presidency.
“I have long indicated that I have interest to contest for the BPP presidency. Right now I am only waiting for the congress which has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic to contest for the position of the BPP president,” said the former Kanana ward councillor. Another aspiring contestant is Professor Phillip Bulawa, a Professor in Education Management at the University of Botswana (UB).
Bulawa, who is also the acting secretary general (ASG) of BPP, disclosed that he is ready to contest for any leadership position after he was hand-picked early this year as the ASG of one of Botswana’s oldest political movements following the expulsion of Venter Galetshabiwe (who until his expulsion was the secretary general).
The UB professor, who is said to be favored by some in the top echelons of the BPP for the party presidency because of his positive demeanor and good leadership skills said: “When I joined the BPP, someone asked me if I would at one point consider to contest for the presidency since the days of the current president are numbered. I told that person that I would not contest for that position because I was new in the party.” The academic added that now since the dynamics within the BPP have changed after he was chosen to be the ASG of the party, it gives him confidence to contest for any leadership position.
“If you ask me that question now, I will tell you that yes, I will be contesting for one of the leadership positions in the party. But for now, I won’t be disclosing which leadership position I will be contesting,” said Bulawa. Just like Bulawa, the only BPP legislator and MP for Francistown West, Moswaane kept his cards close to his chest
Moswaane said: “Right now I am undecided. But if there are strong calls for me to do so, I will contest.” Although Moswaane said that he was undecided, reliable sources have told Mmegi that he has told some within his inner circle that he would be contesting for the party presidency.
“It is only a matter of time before Moswaane officially announces that he will be contesting the BPP presidency. Moswaane told some of his closest comrades that he felt that it would be premature for him to disclose his interest in the BPP presidency shortly after he was officially welcomed in the party. He is also campaigning discreetly to gauge his strength in the BPP,” a source close to Moswaane told Mmegi.Experts are of the opinion that whoever takes over the presidency of the BPP will face the daunting task of reshaping the party’s outdated way of doing things and resuscitating its structures.
The pundits also posited that there is a general impression that the BPP has lost its spark and even suggested that it should disband because its fortunes have been dwindling since the era of its past and late leader Phillip Matante. Some people within the BPP who are said to be in favor of Bulawa having control of the strings of the BPP power are of the view that although Moswaane is a grassroots politician, his often erratic behavior is his main undoing.
“Moswaane is a well-oiled and highly experienced politician. But his ‘attack dog’ style of politics is seen as an obstacle to party members to warm up to him hence they consider him to be immature for the presidency of the BPP,” a highly placed source within the party said.
There is a swelling opinion that Gopolang has limited chances of winning against Moswaane and Bulawa. Gopolang is relatively considered a political novice when pitted against Moswaane and Bulawa. Should Moswaane, Gopolang and Bulawa contest the presidential election, it would be the first time for the party to have a strong contest for key party positions.