FRANCISTOWN: Botswana People’s Party (BPP) members have accused their vice president, Mbaakanyi Lenyatso of pursuing his ‘own interest’ during the party’s recent negotiations with other Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partners.
The matter relates to the recent allocation of council wards in Francistown West.
The wards will be contested at the 2019 general elections. The recent negotiations that were led by UDC president Duma Boko featured the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the BPP. Lenyatso is a parliamentary candidate for Francistown West constituency for the 2019 general elections. During the meeting to resolve the impasse over the allocation of the wards, Lenyatso is alleged to have used his influence within the party (BPP) to advocate for some of the wards to be allocated to the BCP and the BNF, contrary to the position of others within the party (BPP).
The wards in question are Kanana and Monarch North. Insiders within the BPP have alleged that Lenyatso does not have faith in some council candidates from his party and believes that they can dent his prospects of winning the general elections. Lenyatso is also said to be of the view that the BPP does not have strong structures in some areas in Francistown West. This explains why he backed the BCP and BNF to get some of the wards in the constituency (particularly those under dispute). During the weekend meeting, the BPP was given Tatitown and Botsalano ward.
The BCP got three, Moselewapula, Kanana and Monarch South. The BNF got Monarch North.
Indications from close sources are that BPP also wanted Monarch North because the party believes that it has strong structures and a sound candidate in the area.
According to insiders at the meeting, some BPP members wanted the party to contest Kanana where ‘it had already identified a candidate’. At the meeting, Lenyatso is also alleged to have played a key role in ensuring that the BPP adopt a BCP candidate at Tati Town ward, contrary to the position of the majority in the constituency and within the party.
However, yesterday Lenyatso told Mmegi that the re-allocation of the wards over the weekend was fair and just. “If you look at Moselewapula and Kanana ward, the BCP has a strong presence there and based on the 2014 general elections figures their candidates can win those wards with ease (with the aid of other UDC partners) at the 2019 general elections.”
“As for Monarch North in 2014 BCP accumulated 630 votes while the UDC got 319. However, the ward was allocated to BNF because that is where the party has a structure in Francistown West,” he said.
He added, “At Monarch North I had proposed that BNF and BPP go to the primaries because we (BPP) have a strong candidate and fairly good structures there. However, BNF members opposed my position arguing that it will not be fair to their party as it has only been given one ward.”
He also defended the BPP’s decision to adopt a BCP candidate at Tatitown ward.
“The BCP lost the ward by 12 votes, hence it was only logical to adopt their candidate. The decision was in the best interest of the coalition. I was putting the facts on the table,” he said. For sometime, it has widely been reported that both BCP and the BPP were at loggerheads over the allocation of wards in Francistown West.
BCP members in Francistown West were said to be of the view that the BPP was doing things in bad faith, as it did not have structures to win elections in most wards in the constituency. On the other hand, BPP members maintained that their party enjoyed the liberty to determine ward candidates within Francistown West.
They reasoned that the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) handed Francistown West to them unconditionally. The BPP was given Francistown West by the BMD in 2017. That was before the BMD was expelled from the opposition coalition.
Boko was recently approached to intervene because the differences between the two parties could not be resolved amicably and timely. The BPP executive will most likely protest the recent allocation of the wards. Yesterday BPP president Motlatsi Molapisi said in reaction to the recent developments in Francistown West.
“ At BPP we stick to the initial demand that we should get at least three wards most notably Kanana, Monarch North and Botsalano.
We have always maintained that the BPP should get at least three wards in Francistown West. Our position is informed by the presence of the two parties within the constituency,” he said.
He added that he was not aware that his party had adopted a BCP candidate at Tatitown ward.
Molapisi said that BPP executive ‘will soon meet’ to discuss the recent decision of the UDC to re-allocate the wards in Francistown. “We will decide our next step after the meeting. I do not want to dwell much on the matter for now,” he said.