FRANCISTOWN: Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor for Kanana ward in the Francistown-West constituency, Cornelius Gopolang has joined the race to replace Botswana People’s Party (BPP) president Motlatsi Molapise who is due to retire.
Gopolang’s recent exit from the BDP, the party that he joined in 2007 to rejoin the BPP has heightened speculation that the 56-year-old Nshakazhogwe-born politician is readying himself to take over the BPP leadership.
Gopolang, an independent-minded politician who is always outspoken in the Francistown City Council (FCC) debates told Mmegi this week that he was interested in leading the oldest party in the country if he were given a chance.
Gopolang, who apparently failed to defend the Kanana ward during the BDP primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe, was adamant that he wanted to revive the ever-dwindling fortunes of the BPP.
“The BPP has a good history politically in Botswana and the party has an opportunity to revive its fortunes more so that it is in the opposition alliance with other political parties,” Gopolang told Mmegi yesterday.
He felt he was mature enough to lead an opposition party of the BPP mould with a potential of improving where his predecessor would have left off.
In a press statement he issued this week, Gopolang explained: “After deep thought, I have made a conscious decision to re-join the BPP. I have searched my soul and my conscience gave me the thumps up. I adhere to the ideals of the BPP”.
He then listed the ideals of the BPP as amongst others, total merger, cultural diversity and development, recognition of ethnicity and political education and funding amongst others.
Quizzed about his impending departure from the BPP leadership, the 72-year-old Molapise confirmed that if he had it his way, he would retire from active politics before the impending general elections expected in October this year.
Molapise, whose party is contracted to the Umbrella for Democratic Chance (UDC), a tri-party alliance partnership that includes Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF), is also UDC chairperson.
“My wish is to retire before the general elections so that even if I were to officially hand over power, I will be rest assured that there will be smooth transfer of power. I can’t really hold on beyond the general elections.”
He welcomes Gopolang’s bravery to take over the BPP leadership, but encourages more people to step up to the plate so that there is competition.
Molapise is also the Francistown City Council’s longest serving civic leader after 25 years as a councillor.
“Before the general elections, the BPP leadership will meet and map out the way forward,” Molapise, who hails from Mmadinare and has been viewed as a stabilising factor in the BPP, declared.
BPP vice president Mbaakanyi Lenyatso told Mmegi this week that he is available for any challenge that the party entrusts him.
In other words, if party diehards trust him with the party leadership, “I will take the task with both hands”. Lenyatso is the UDC parliamentary candidate for Francistown-West constituency and is currently employed by Mupane Gold Mine.
The 42-year-old Lenyatso hails from Nlapwane in the North East.