FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is expected to flaunt its strength in Palapye to prove the Doubting Thomases wrong about the future of the newly registered political party.
Incidentally or by design, the BPF will go for their elective congress in Palapye buoyed by the recent defections of about four sitting civic leaders from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at both Serowe South and Serowe North constituencies.
Atamelang Thaga (Serowe South Central), an independent-minded councillor and a known Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi acolyte has taken up BPF membership after dumping the ruling party.
From Serowe North, Solomon Dikgang (Tidimalo) and Robert Marina (Motetshwane) whilst Gaotingwe Omphile (Palamaokuwe) in Serowe West complete four catches that have left the BDP to join the BPF. More people could be welcomed from the floor of the congress penciled for Palapye.
Moiteela, formerly a BDP operative, is adamant that the elective congress billed for August 3, offers an opportunity for the party to prove its critics wrong.
The expectation according to Moiteela, the party’s interim national organising secretary, is that seven delegates are expected to come from each of the 57 constituencies to grace the congress. The congress was postponed to the new date to accord the new organisation an opportunity to set up the party requisite structures.
Councillors will attend the congress by virtue of their positions. The plan is to make the party visible and more competitive post the Palapye congress. BPF interim leader, Biggie Butale was last week elated that whilst the recent Kanye meet was massively attended, the Palapye one would even be much bigger.
“I have never attended a rally of that magnitude. The Palapye one will be much bigger,” Butale promised last week as he gave highlights of the well-attended party meeting in Kanye.
Palapye lies within the touted stronghold of the new party, which has strong roots in GammaNgwato or the vast Central District. The elective congress was supposed have been held in Kanye recently but could not since certain constitutional requirements were not met including the setting of proper party structures. Moiteela intimated that the BPF would not flow with the feelings of the people but would rather follow the letter and spirit of its constitution.
“What brings politicians together is the instruments like the party constitution and not leading the party through feelings of certain party leaders like what we experienced at our former party,” Moiteela said in an interview.
The BPF general membership is expected to throng the inaugural elective congress in large numbers not to only elect a new leadership but to also witness the unveiling of the party’s pledge card for the 2019 general elections.
The BPF will not launch a manifesto but would rather unveil a pledge card detailing its promises if elected into power.
The BPF will certainly not contest in all the 57 constituencies for now, but it will field candidates in strategic constituencies that will afford it an impact in the impending general elections.
The party will also reveal its strategy for alliance partnership with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) or any other interested party at the Palapye meet. Moiteela was not certain how many constituencies the BPF was ready to contest. He was hopeful that the congress would provide all the requisite answers.
Whilst the BPF targets the bulk of the Central District-based constituencies, there are constituencies that are already in the UDC basket like Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Nkange, and Bobirwa amongst others.
“Even in the Central District, there are constituencies that we feel strongly that the UDC would be a better contender and as such we will not contest them.”
The new political party will have to work much harder in Palapye, where President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently addressed a Kgotla meeting ahead of the BPF meet and doled out blankets to the elderly, a gesture that might popularise his government at a time that Palapye residents had vowed not to vote for the BDP. The anti-Masisi government crusade emerged recently when some worried party diehards led by former ruling party operative, Lawrence Bodilenyane launched an anti-BDP move claiming that Vice President and BDP chairperson, Slumber Tsogwane had spoken ill about their Kgosikgolo and former president Ian Khama. At the height of the Khama/Masisi clashes, Tsogwane is alleged to have tried to de-campaign Khama before the Palapye constituents something that did not sit well with the villagers. Led amongst others by Bodilenyane, the villagers sent a delegation to Khama at his office in Gaborone and reported the contents of the Tsogwane meeting.
The Palapye constituency was never the same since the Tsogwane meeting. It remains to be seen how the BPF will benefit from the alleged divisions in Palapye as portrayed by Bodilenyane and company.