BDP in turmoil

Mid last year Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) president Seretse Khama Ian Khama complimented party members for what he said was “evident restored peace and stability” in the ruling party. Recent events in the ruling party may however disprove the president, statement following the resignations of BDP veterans and members of parliament for Lentsweletau Major General Moeng Pheto and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Member of Parliament for Tonota South Pono Moatlhodi.

In his address to the media on Saturday, Pheto declared the ruling party dead, saying it lost its soul at the Maun congress last year. In addition to Pheto and Moatlhodi’s resignations there is uncertainty surrounding the continued candidature of Robert Masitara in Gaborone Bonnington North. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the the time the  Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was formed. The reasons given by the disgruntled members like Pheto are similar to those of Motswaledi and company when they left the BDP for BMD.

“There is no peace in the BDP, if you speak out you become an enemy, but that’s not my nature, I will speak out if things are not done properly, ” Pheto said at his press conference.
Pheto decried unfairness in that he, along  with some of the nine councilors who will be standing for council wards as independent candidates, have long written letters complaining about irregularities during Bulela Ditswe adding that even up to today the party is yet to respond while in other areas re-runs have been completed.

“The reason I am standing as an independent candidate is to save democracy. I will not allow a person who the people did not vote for to be imposed on them while I am their preferred candidate,” he said.
Since losing to President Khama’s confidante Thapelo Olopeng in the BDP primaries, Moatlhodi has been very vocal in his criticism of the ruling party to the extent of daring them to remove him from his position as Deputy Speaker of the national assembly. “I dare them to face me and tell me to my face that they do not want me, I have heard that there are some who want to remove me from the position, they are welcome to try!” He said.

The Gaborone Bonnington North constituency is also mired in confusion amid reports that incumbent MP Robert Masitara could be recalled and replaced with Kagiso Ntime. Last week specially elected councilor John “Mazabathi” Mokandla confirmed that councilors in that constituency were not impressed by Masitara’s announcement that he might be away for six months before turning around and saying he was joking. Mokandla said they will monitor Masitara’s performance in the campaigns and if dissatisfied they would do away with him.

Christopher Nthuba in the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency is said to be threatening to take the ruling party to court over his candidature. Nthuba was suspended prior to the primary elections and his disciplinary hearing has been postponed four times. In Mahalapye West Bernard Bolele is also said to be threatening legal action over his controversial loss to Joseph Molefe.
The party president is also at odds with the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Margaret Nasha apparently over the latter’s recently released autobiography in which she unpacked the crisis of leadership in the BDP.

The party has held numerous re-runs in constituencies such as Serowe North East, Mmadinare, Mahalapye West and Boteti South over disputed primaries that saw 13 incumbent BDP MPs and 7 ministers ousted.  While the party is well resourced and enjoys incumbency privileges, the 2014 general elections will be a big test for the embattled BDP which has been governing since 1966.