PALAPYE: In a game of numbers like politics, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) might have pulled a huge surprise in the numbers that it amassed at its inaugural elective congress in Palapye.
Even its president Biggie Butale described the crowd his party pulled as overwhelming and a promise that Batswana are positively receiving a two-month-old political party very well.
Well, as for the throngs of the delegates at the elective congress held at the Majestic Five Lodge’s conference centre, the numbers spoke for themselves.
Majestic Five has one of the biggest conference facilities in Palapye with an extended upper lobby.
To the surprise of many, including the BPF itself, during the opening session of the congress, the hall was filled to capacity with a good number of delegates literally seated on the floor.
Outside the hall, sympathisers had come in their hundreds and occupying almost all the space available in the parking lot buses bringing more and more people to the congress venue.
Interestingly, the BPF has become a unifying factor by bringing together politicians who used to be divided by political affiliation.
In particular, it seems former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) operatives have seemingly crossed the floor to the new party in large numbers.
Onneete Ramogapi, former BDP operative in Palapye and his BCP colleague Morupule civic leader, Jordan Makhura were worried when they realised that some of their party operatives had massively joined the BPF.
Ramogapi is also Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary hopeful for Palapye.
It was a day the BPF will never forget in their history as they say the opportunity made a requisite statement to its opponents who have always dismissed them as non-starters.
Ford Moiteela, who was re-elected as the national organising secretary revealed that at first, the main floor of the hall had about 1,200 chairs before they were increased with an almost similar number to accommodate the delegates and invited guests.
Moiteela was upbeat that the promises of the people are now becoming real and in a short while the new party, he said, will complete its exercise of registering membership.
At the venue, where a political rally was billed for 2pm, masses started taking their positions as early as after 8am, something that shocked even the organisers of the two events.
It was a massive event that could have left BPF’s opponents green with envy.
The masses left Butale salivating, hoping that they were indeed part of the BPF and not just onlookers. His hope was that at least 94% of them were members of the new party.
As for the congress delegates, he was over the moon that the promises of the people were kept.
A civil servant who preferred anonymity and had gone to witness the BPF rally told The Monitor:
“Yes, I can see it’s pulling crowds...at this stage one can’t be sure how many are curious onlookers and how many are loyal followers”.
He, however, stated that things will become clearer when they start organising ward meetings.
He gave the new party kudos for good crowds.
The BPF crowds even left incessant debates even within the media fraternity as they interrogated the numbers.
Colleague, Chakalisa Dube was shocked at the numbers BPF pulled in its early days of its existence reiterating a question as to whether the numbers were legitimately the BPF’s or just curiuos onlookers.
A sharp critical question of whether the BPF will translate the numbers into votes came to the fore as raised by Dube.
It is everybody’s guess whether the new party will maintain its upward trajectory or it will go the route of other political parties that appeal upon formation and lose ground over time.
Well, Dube was surprised at the role allocated to Khama as the inaugural patron to the extent that the BPF congress endorsed the role in its constitution.
For now, the BPF will cash in on the Khama magic, which is seemingly the glue that holds things together at the centre of a new party.
Funny enough, in his last days at the BDP as party and state president, the Khama magic was fast on its fall as depicted by the waning fortunes of the BDP.