The political rift between Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers in Parliament and cabinet ministers this week sunk to a new low, with the former accusing the latter of failing the nation.
In an unprecedented move, the BDP backbench hinted that should the current socio-economic climate in Botswana continue, it is likely to force them to disassociate with the ruling party to protect their personal integrity.
Legislator Ignatius Moswaane of Francistown West constituency on Wednesday spoke openly that his party is failing to deliver what it had promised Batswana.
He also threatened that if water shortage issue is not seriously addressed, he would cross the floor to the opposition.
This is not the first time that some backbenchers have expressed dissatisfaction about their government and the attitude of cabinet ministers. The BDP chief Whip Liakat Kablay once attacked them during a party press conference for failing to answer questions when asked by MPs.
On Wednesday, Moswaane told Mmegi that he believed some ministers had to be dropped from their positions because they are failing to deliver.
“We keep on discussing with our ministers at party caucus but nothing is changing. The painful part is that we are in Parliament to represent people not ourselves,” Moswaane said.
One of the ruling party MPs who spoke on condition of anonymity said some members of the cabinet had been thrown into the deep end.
“Some of them are not performing because they had been thrown into the deep end and they don’t know what to do. Failures by certain ministries to perform affect the party and us,” he said.
The MP further noted a “tendency by certain ministers to take serious issues lightly and they can even joke about them. Our frustration makes us even attack them publicly.”
The backbencher complained that disregard for court orders, water/electricity crises, projects failure and education problems are not sitting well with their party.
In an interview yesterday, the BDP chief whip, who recently equated President Ian Khama to Jesus Christ, shared the sentiments of the backbenches.
“I agree with what the backbench is saying because certain ministers have a tendency of promising our constituents some things that they know will not happen. Some of these people are not working and it hurts my MPs. I have raised these issues with the Vice President because he is the one who controls them,” Kablay said.
He said he is worried that some of their MPs have lost trust in some cabinet ministers.
Kablay said it is important that the relationship between the backbenchers and ministers is built but it seems some of the ministers think that they are now civil servants when they are not.
The concerned chief whip said he would seek a meeting again with VP Mokgweetsi Masisi over the matter.
The BDP executive secretary, Botsalo Ntuane is aware of the backbench frustrations, saying he had seen such comments in newspapers.
“I cannot comment much on the issue but we will try to discuss it with all colleagues at party caucus because it’s a matter that needs to be attended to. I don’t want to blame or pin point anyone,” Ntuane said.
The strained relationship between the ruling party backbench and ministers is something that the BDP will have to take seriously, said political analyst Antony Morima. He said for the BDP to regain support there has to be cohesion.
“This clearly shows that the BDP is far from reversing some of the mistakes it made in the 2014 elections. Some MPs are able to read the mood of the constituents already because they are the ones on the ground, that if they entertain what ministers are saying then they would lose elections,” Morima said.