Botswana People’s Party (BPP) President Motlatsi Molapise has cautioned the youth of opposition parties on Facebook to desist from making posts which threaten unity in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette following a recent controversial post by BPP Secretary General, Botho Seboko, who had posted that “it is frustrating to hear even little baboons that are responsible to nothing and nobody are leading the pack to discredit the founding President of our nation. Unlike us today, those in the opposition back then knew that their opposition back then was to be within realms of nation building.”
Furor over this post has given rise to rumor that opposition unity in Kalakamati, where a bye election is due on 26 October, is in jeopardy. As a result, Molapisi reigned on Seboko who he says should have known better than to make such a post as it was in bad taste and could provoke disunity in the Umbrella.
“Our Secretary General was out of order to post such a statement on Facebook, but we have met and talked about the issue, it has been ironed out and he has apologized to all those that might have felt provoked in anyway,” Molapise said.
He said problems arising from Facebook should be treated with utmost seriousness across all UDC members, as it is common for them to wrangle through the social media platform, sowing unnecessary disunity. “I have said it and I continue to say it, opposition youth should desist from using facebook to provoke one another but use it to sell UDC policies instead. People also see these posts and how we go about tearing one another on Facebook. That is not good for the image of our party as a whole,” he said.
Moeti Mohwasa, the UDC Spokesperson, also condemned the growing trend of provocative posts at the center of much bitter antagonism between the UDC social media hordes.
“If anyone has a complaint about something he/she should lodge it in a more civilized manner following the structures that are in place not to go and put a post on Facebook. And even if you feel provoked by a post from a fellow comrade, you should not be drawn into engaging him there, but follow the procedure so that the matter can be addressed properly,” he said.
Mohwasa said it was high time the UDC came up with a social media policy that will regulate the conduct of members when it comes to party affairs. “We will discuss it as the leadership because obviously we need that to avoid this kind of situations,” he said.
However, he dismissed any doubts that their win as the UDC could be compromised by Seboko’s post and said they were working hard enough to win Kalakamati.
While Seboko has since tendered an apology, including one proffered on his behalf by UDC Vice President, Ndaba Gaolathe, much ambivalence and cynicism could still be witnessed on Facebook, by those who still insist on sending broadsides against his party, the BPP, which they have labeled a “brief case party”. Ndaba however appealed for unity ahead of Kalakamati.
The tiff between Facebook BNF and BPP members is often reminiscent of the protracted antagonism between the two parties which characterized their relationship in the 1980s, leading to the eventual decline of the latter, thanks to attacks and propaganda championed by the late Maitshwarelo Dabutha and Paul Rantao among other BNF fire brands.