- BDP members in Tonota say he treated the party with hostility
- Moatlhodi claims he is not aware that anyone does not want him
- Secretary says branch committee has no problem with the return of the ‘maverick’
The defection of Tonota legislator Pono Moatlhodi to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has reportedly caused ripples within the constituency amid concerns that it has the potential to reignite the discord that he allegedly sowed in the opposition where he is coming from, The Botswana Gazette has established.
As he awaits his official welcome to the ruling party by the branch committee, members of the BDP in Tonota are reportedly uneasy about it because Moatlhodi allegedly had a hostile attitude towards the BDP when he was with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). “Most democrats are still grappling with the hatred that Moatlhodi had for the BDP,” one source told The Botswana Gazette. “This makes them uncomfortable because they feel that the grudge against him might fuel division and cause a rebellion. They would rather Moatlhodi was welcomed by Tsheletsa House in Gaborone.”
The Secretary of the Tonota Branch, Polite Chibwana, has confirmed that some people are so uncomfortable with the arrival of Moatlhodi at the BDP that his committee engaged party elders on the issue. “Truth be told, members of the branch committee never rejected him,” Chibwana said. “However, some democrats within the constituency have indeed raised concerns about Moatlhodi’s arrival at the party.”
He added that “PPP,” as Moatlhosi is affectionately known, is aware of the sense of trepidation that he has stirred and is prepared to address it. The maverick politician retraced his steps back to the BDP last year following a widely publicised fallout with the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, after his suspension as Chief Whip of the opposition in Parliament. He accused Saleshando and MPs of the UDC of disrespecting him.
Moatlhodi, who has been a BDP member for the better part of his life, dumped the party in 2013 after he lost primary elections to Thapelo Olopeng. He appealed the results and lost.
Reached for a comment, Moatlhodi said he was not aware of anyone being against his arrival at the BDP. If there are such people, he added, they should be mindful of the massive votes that he amassed from members of the BDP in the 2019 general elections. “I liked the UDC a lot but it was BDP members who voted for me in large numbers,” he said. “Mind you, I was relentlessly courted by the BDP only three days after the elections. I rejected their overtures because of my love for the UDC. I decided to resign only after the UDC consistently excluded me from caucuses that took decisions that affected me.”
Moatlhodi added that he has settled comfortably at the BDP because it is a party he knows and understands better. “This is the party that I spent most of my life with,” he noted. “Watch this space, I am going to demolish the UDC in this constituency.”