While the BDP is dismissing the BPF and tribal lines as a factor that lost the Central Region in 2019, a political scientist says it is and that the BDP should aim to isolate Khama as an individual in a sober approach that that demonstrates that the issue is not about BaNgwato
The Central Region of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) says it is not bothered by ongoing tensions between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama. In the lead-up to the last general elections, tensions between the two influenced a major political shift in the central region that stripped the BDP of its traditional strongholds.
The Central Region has five constituencies – Serowe North, Serowe South, Serowe West, Boteti East and Boteti West. The Chairman the BDP Central Region, Kgosietsile Makula, has told The Botswana Gazette that the party is focused on retaining their lost constituencies at the next general elections.
“We conducted a post-mortem after the elections but that exercise is internal, hence whatever that comes out of it is in-house and for that reason cannot be shared with the enemy through the media,” Makula said, adding that the party intends to approach the next elections with factors that led to its poor performance in the last elections in mind.
He added the rift that resulted in the formation of the Botswana Patriotic Front before the 2019 general elections should not prevent the BDP from overturning its fortunes because what appeared like a mass exodus from the party to the opposition has been rectified.
“We have since rectified that and are also recruiting new members because you will understand that in the past we lost members to the Botswana Movement for Democracy but the party is forever strong,” Makula said.
He dismissed any suggestions that some key members may be on their way out of the party in sympathy with Khama. “I want to tell you that the BDP will continue to work hard in this region through recruitment of new members because that is the nature of politics,” he asserted and dismissed tribal lines as a factor in the last elections.
However, political scientist Wankie Wankie says the BDP does not have the right approach and attitude to retain constituencies in the Central Region. Wankie told The Botswana Gazette that whether or not the BDP wins some constituencies in Serowe will depend on the attitude they adopt in dealing with the rift between the incumbent president and the former president.
“Currently the BDP does not have the right approach and attitude,” he emphasised. “My view is that they should have a more conciliatory attitude than has been the case hitherto. Their attitude should not be hostile as that can only serve to alienate the whole tribe. The right approach will be to isolate the former president from his subjects.”
He noted that the BDP has adopted a combative, non-conciliatory attitude that can only harden and entrench attitudes, making it more difficult to wrestle the constituencies from the grip of the BPF.
“My honest view is that unless they change course, they stand to lose the constituencies again,” Wankie insisted. “They must demonstrate that the issue is not about BaNgwato as a tribe but Khama as an individual. So this issue requires political maturity, compromise and sober mindedness.”