FRANCISTOWN: The dismal performance of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in three council by-elections on January 31 has apparently stirred trouble within.
It is reported that the setback is going to haunt the leadership at the impending National Council (NC) meeting billed for Gaborone next month.
Party diehards are reported to be regrouping and demanding accountability from the executive leadership.
Daggers will definitely be drawn at the NC, as some party diehards are already demanding a leadership change. They are complaining that President Ian Khama is weighed down with responsibilities of running the party while other members of the executive are ‘by-standers’.
There is a general outcry that some of the BDP leaders who are tenderpreneurs-cum-politicians have little time for the party’s demanding challenges and hence, they are not equal to the task.
The first casualty is the secretary general Mpho Balopi. Lobby lists headed by former cabinet ministers, Tebelelo Seretse and Ramadeluka Seretse and Tati-West MP, Biggie Butale have apparently endorsed former MP, Botsalo Ntuane as their preferred candidate for the position of secretary general.
Balopi will be most favoured by the group fronting Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, whose chief campaigner is another businessman-cum-politician Samson Guma.
Lately, there have been dissenting voices in the BDP as concerned members vented their frustrations through Facebook. The negative debates on Facebook about the doubtful capabilities and commitments of the current leadership has attracted Khama’s attention. The President has warned regular Facebook commentators to desist from dragging the good name of the party in the mud.
Ford Moiteela, regional chairman for the BDP in Francistown could not hide his disappointment on Facebook following his party’s poor showing in the three by-elections recently.
He is pointing fingers at the party leadership. Moiteela and some commentators have been warned by Khama that those caught criticising the leadership on Facebook will be punished. Khama’s anger when addressing the party youth is a sign of a worried leader who has lost control of his charges.
After losing the three wards of Ngware, Goodhope and Moshupa West, the party leadership, especially the secretariat was blamed for the poor showing.
Balopi has vehemently denied the charges levelled against him. He dismissed reports that he was not visible in the build-up to the by-elections and that his absence resulted in some politicians riding roughshod over local structures.
A BDP facebooker alleged that Guma is the leader of a team that is backing Masisi to join the race for the chairmanship. As part of his plan to endear himself and his group to the VP, Guma was reportedly the campaign manager in Moshupa West. He is alleged to have usurped the responsibility without proper consultations with the local structures.
As it turned out, the main target was to win the ward and use it as bait for luring the VP to join the chairmanship race on the understanding that Guma and company will do the dirty work and deliver the seat.
The Guma-led team knows very well the future benefits of backing the VP in the event he wins the chairmanship.
Already, this development has set tongues wagging in the party as some read ill-motives from the Guma-led group.
Party operatives who have always worked with Masisi in Moshupa are not convinced that Guma is the right man to handle the VP in his bid for the BDP chairmanship.
There is concern that dirty politics is going on with some party leaders looking the other way. It is still unclear if Masisi will finally declare his interest in the race for the chairmanship. But there is a team that is prodding him to declare his candidacy on the understanding that they will lend him full support.
This week, Guma vehemently denied meddling and indicated that he only appeared in Moshupa prior to the by-election just once and he was not even a campaign manager. “I only went to Moshupa once when attending the star rally and I did not go there to interfere with the processes as your sources suggest,” denied Guma.
He said that he was in Moshupa as a party member in good standing and not as a meddler. He however confirmed he was in the team that is campaigning for the VP for the BDP chairmanship.
Balopi has denied he has been fence-sitting.
“I don’t think there is anyone who can blame the party leadership for the dwindling fortunes including a poor showing in the recent by-elections. “We just emerged from general elections where we lost our strongholds. As for the by-elections, the three wards we lost belonged to the opposition,” he explained.
Balopi said the party did everything within its powers. “We win together and lose together. Ours is collective responsibility.”