The outcome of the Bophirima ward by-election may divide the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) even further. Some Members of Parliament (MP) and councillors were against the party central committee's decision to contest as stand-alone regardless of the decision taken by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to field a candidate in a ward that they had been given to care for in the 2019 general election.
The five MPs who did not agree with the party central committee decision include Kenny Kapinga, Dithapelo Keorapetse, Never Tshabang, David Tshere and Onneetse Ramogapi while those who supported the decision of the central committee were Saleshando, Taolo Lucas and Kgoberego Nkawana. MPs Kesitegile Gobotswang and Goretse Kekgonegile did not attend the parliamentary caucus meeting.
Mmegi has learnt that some members on WhatsApp groups have started to grill the party leadership for embarrassing the BCP with the Bophirima ward contest. Furthermore, the latest differences within the party have forced the BCP to quickly call for a leadership forum scheduled for May 14 to reflect on everything starting from 2019 to date. A letter written by BCP executive secretary, Akanyang Magama addressed to constituency chairpersons, central committee members, regional chairpersons, MPs, councillors, the youth league, and the women’s league says the BCP will hold the May 14 leadership forum in Palapye.
“The main purpose of the forum will be to reflect on political and organisational developments in the party since the 2019 general election and exchange views on preparations for the 2024 election. Delegates to the leadership forum shall consist of five delegates from central committee members, MPs, councillors, five from both youth league and women’s league, the chairpersons and secretaries of each constituency and region,” the letter states. According to an insider, the move came after the party leadership realised that it is under attack and some members are against some of the decisions that they make. The insider said some councillors are not happy with the way some of the things are being done in the party.
“The reason why the leadership forum is called is also to try to build peace amongst the members, especially for the party president Dumelang Saleshando to find ways of working well with his MPs.
The party is divided on several issues; Bophirima ward is one of them. This forum was long overdue. Sometimes certain decisions that the mother body makes are not practical on the ground. Again the party is slowly losing its popularity on the ground. If the party leadership is not united, then the structures will suffer and that will make it lose elections. The members must dictate to the party leadership what to do in times of crises, not the other way round. As members, we do not want our party to always be in the papers for the wrong reasons,” the insider said. Historically this is how parties have been performing in the Bophirima ward from the 2009 to the 2019 general elections.
2009 general election BDP 552 BNF 403 BCP 204
2014 general election BDP 742 UDC 684 BCP 350
2019 general election BDP 731 UDC 437 AP 133 Independent Candidate 113