The conspicuously quiet Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has dismissed reports it is on the verge of extinction. Instead, the party claims it is building its structures.
The plan is to come up with strategies to overcome challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
The BMD has been on mute mode and many have been thinking that the party is dying a natural death since it did not perform well in the 2019 general election. The BMD suffered a major split in Bobonong in 2017 when some of its members decamped. They defected to form a new party, Alliance for Progressives.
The BMD never recovered from the split as in 2018, it faced another problem when it was kicked out of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The BMD was formed in 2010 by the then Members of Parliament (MPs) and other politicians who left the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) over differences with former president, Ian Khama. Khama was then the BDP president.
BMD’s acting secretary general, Tseleng Botlhole said they are still in existence and the party structures have not collapsed. “The only problem we are facing is that COVID-19 is failing us to meet some party members and also to check on our structures. A party cannot be run through a phone call unlike a company. One needs to check if indeed the members and structures are still intact,” she said in an interview on Wednesday. “If one keeps on depending on a phone call in politics, then she/he will be misled easily by members. Politics is a dirty game and it needs ground work. We have been having meetings virtually and we are focusing on by-election that might happen at Mochudi East constituency since one of our members have shown interest in an event the by-election could be called.”
Botlhole said some of the members stay in remote areas where there is no internet connection. Others do not have mobile phones that have
Botlhole said the BMD is ready to work with other opposition parties especially when they did not field a candidate.
“We are prepared to work with any party that is willing to work with us. Where we did not field a candidate, we will be encouraging our members to vote for opposition parties not the BDP,” she said. “Of course we do not have any formal memorandum agreement with any party regarding by-elections.”
She bemoaned COVID-19 protocols were limiting them to hold crucial meetings and to work the ground.
University of Botswana political analyst, Keaoleboga Dipogiso said the BMD could not survive without coalition and it has been proven by 2014 general election.
“BMD has died a natural death and for it to continue to be relevant, it has to work with other parties. COVID-19 has made the issues worse because the party leadership cannot visit the members in different areas,” Dipogiso said in an interview on Wednesday. “The success of BMD was only measured by its success through the coalition in 2014, but after its internal fights the history of the party was now written all over. It could have ensured that it keeps being relevant even after split, but it has failed to do so. That is why it had only one councillor and no MP in 2021. Maybe its leadership should re-brand the party so that it becomes relevant and attract new members.”
He added the BMD should come up with strategies to avoid a complete collapse of the party because if not careful, it might fail to field candidates in 2024 general election.
In addition, the political analyst said the BMD must introspect on what could have led to the poor performance in 2019 and some of things they could do to improve.