FRANCISTOWN: Francistown West legislator, Ignatius Moswaane has dominated the country’s political scene for more than a decade, and he has turned into one of the most formidable politicians Botswana has ever had.
He will soon battle for the presidency of the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) where he recently found a new political home. Moswaane joined the BPP after he ditched the ruling party late last year following squabbling with its leadership. Although he did not want to discuss his candidacy, various sources have confirmed that Moswaane would contest for the BPP presidency at the party’s congress due mid this year and has started canvassing for support. Long serving BPP president,Motlatsi Molapise, recently announced that he could have long left his position had it not been for the COVID-19
pandemic. Moswaane will face University of Botswana academic, Professor Phillip
Bulawa and Cornelius Gopolang. By virtue of his political experience, Moswaane is viewed as a front-runner in the elections.
Moswaane’s decision to join the BPP, an ailing political party was widely considered politically courageous and ambitious. The MP reportedly wants to use the position of BPP presidency to solidify his credentials in the party and improve his chances of winning the 2024 general election. However, many are of the view that campaigning for the position of BPP president as well as trying to solidify his position as an MP at the BPP might leave him in a very precarious position that would ultimately end his political career or prevent him from winning the 2024 polls. For starters, those backing Moswaane’s bid for the BPP
presidency believe that he does have some positive attributes that would enable him to lead the party to greater heights. He is considered someone who displays self-confidence, principled and an effective communicator. As an outsider, it is also believed that he will bring in new perspectives and vision to the BPP. Moswaane has suffered many political setbacks and is often considered a sly political brawler who never goes down quietly. He held his ground through a series of grueling political battles orchestrated by the
BDP (his then party) leading to the 2019 general election. His backers believe that such credential (Moswaane’s fighting spirit and militancy) is what is needed for the BPP to survive against its coalition partners in the form of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Other contracting parties have often been accused of undermining and bullying the BPP.
Now, Moswaane might have over the years carefully cultivated his image as a formidable politician but the question is, can he use his vast political experience to change the fortunes of the BPP should he convince the party die-hards to vote him as president?
Adam Mfundisi, a lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana this week shared his analysis as to whether Moswaane has the right credentials to lead the BPP or not. “If he wins, his approachability, and dedication to national interests will propel the party to connect with the voters. Moswaane is an experienced politician imbued with effective communication skills, which if utilised properly (provided he is voted into office) can be used as a mobilisation tool for the BPP to make it relevant again. His uprightness when dealing with issues affecting the electorate enables him to be trustworthy in the eyes of the voters, particularly in the Greater Francistown area and beyond. Voters in his constituency greatly trust and have confidence in his ability to lead by example,” said Mfundisi adding that;
“he can inspire, motivate, persuade, influence, and empower the electorates by communication skills. Charismatic leadership is also reflected in him through his ability to attract the attention of voters whenever he articulates issues of national concerns. He is firm and outright in the defense of the people against unethical and /or immoral behavior by public officials. If at all he ascends to the presidency he can use these attributes to make the BPP relevant again.”
Mfundisi further noted that Moswaane might find it easy to cope as the BPP president because he has immense political experience having been a member of the ruling BDP for a lengthy period of time where he experienced all types of leadership styles and their pathologies.
On the downside, Mfundisi
said Moswaane seems to be a “loose canon bursting out against opponents at every given opportunity. Such attribute according to Mfundisi can render Moswaane a less effective president should he be chosen to lead the BPP. “His anger sometimes betrays him. He needs to control his temper to enable him to be focused on issues of greater importance.
Another handicap is that he is a newcomer to one of the oldest parties in Botswana that is faced with existential threat. Often times political culture is essential in leading a political formation. Parachuting him into a leadership position without adequate socialisation may be catastrophic to the development of the BPP. That is, if he wins it can be hard for him to lead because he does not understand the inner workings of the party,” he said.
Additionally, he stated that: “All in all, the MP has the necessary attributes to lead the BPP in my considered view. He possesses organisational capacity, public communication skill, political skill, and emotional intelligence. These combinations of skills place him in a better position to lead the BPP to fruition. If he is voted it would be for those working with him to moderate his weaknesses,” Mfundisi said.