- “BDP trying to divide Bakgatla”- Opposition
- Says his siblings support his move
- Denies being recruited to challenge Dow in Mochudi West
Mmusi Kgafela says his decision to join the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is supported by his family members and will not divide the royal house as some suggest.
He said this at a BDP rally in Rasesa this past weekend where he was welcomed to the party by its chairperson Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Mmusi is the younger brother to the self-exiled and de-recognized Bakgatla Chief, Kgosi Kgafela II, who currently resides in South Africa following a tiff with the Botswana government which led to him being stripped off his powers over his controversial rule.
He told the rally that contrary to allegations that the royal house was against his decision to join the BDP given the history with government, they supported his move. “If indeed my membership divided the royals, I would not be here today,” he said, much to the ululations of the handful who had attended the rally.
Mmusi said that it was unfortunate that many people did not understand how the royal family operates: “In Kgatleng, children of the chief cooperate and they respect democracy. When one of them decides to contest in a certain political party, they would not turn their backs against you but would rather welcome your decision.”
He however dismissed allegations that he was recruited to the BDP to displace Minister of Basic Education Unity Dow in the constituency to give credence to the dictum Ga di ke di etelelwa ke namagadi pele (Women cannot lead ahead of men).
“Such statements no longer have room in the current society. Today people are elected looking at their capability and not gender,” he explained, stating that he knew the statement was made to disparage to Dow.
He cautioned party members to desist from making sexist comments saying also that it was “still undemocratic to elect someone into power simply because she is a woman.” Mmusi argued that said it should be left to the electorates to decide who they want to represent them in 2019.
Sources within the BDP are however adamant that Mmusi will challenge for the Mochudi West seat, saying that there would in fact be no primary election.
“It cannot be said now, but the strategy is that he be brought to contest the coming elections and there will be no primaries… primary elections in the BDP are still a thorny issue that the party still has to reach a consensus on. Primary elections are dividing this party and leaving others disgruntled and right now the issue is very sensitive,” a source said.
Another source indicated that bringing in Mmusi was a strategy by the BDP to subdue the tension between government and Bakgatla over matters relating to their chieftaincy.
Meanwhile the former Kgatleng East MP Isaac Mabiletsa lambasted the BDP for trying to divide Bakgatla by recruiting Kgafela while there is still bad blood between their royal family and government.
He said the recruitment of Mmusi was a ploy to fool people, arguing that Kgosi Kgafela II who is still in exile in South Africa because of the BDP government was still the reigning chief.
“We are not going to be fooled by the BDP going around boasting that they Mmusi has joined them and the people should follow suit. We respect Kgosi Kgafela as our only chief and we will never befriend his enemies which are the BDP, but we also respect Mmusi as our chief’s younger brother,” Mabiletsa said.
He said while they do not have a problem with Mmusi joining the BDP to exercise his democratic right, he warned the party against using him to garner support as he is not and will never be the chief of Bakgatla.
UDC’s Nora Nkwe who is also Tlokweng Sub-District Chair said Mmusi’s recruitment was evil and meant to divide the Bakgatla royal family.
“The BDP is fond of breaking other people’s families. How can they court Kgosi Kgafela’s younger brother after they mistreated his brother and even forced him to flee the country? Bakgatla should not forget that the BDP still owes them an apology on that issue,” she said.
Mosanta ward councillor, Tona Mooketsi, warned Bakgatla to not be sold dreams, saying Kgosi Kgafela II whose word they still uphold had not announced his change of stance against the BDP government.
“It is because of them that our chief is not able to come and see his people now, he together with Mmusi told us that the BDP should not be trusted as it is corrupt and evil and today Mmusi wants us to accept that he is part of that evil and corrupt ring…We shall hold on to the words of our chief not his brother. We will not rally behind Mmusi as Bakgatla; we are sane enough to know what is best for us,” he said.
Mooketsi said instead of making such a hasty move, Mmusi should have approached elders. “BDP is the one that once jailed him together with his brother Kgosi Kgafela. If it was about him starving he could have told us and we could have contributed in that regard,” he said.