The Botswana Democratic Party Executive Secretary, Comma Serema, was last week at pains to explain how a march organized by BDP youth to show solidarity and support for the President excluded Francistown South and West constituencies.
Youth from Phandu Skelemani‘s Francistown East constituency organized a march on June 16, under the theme “Our President, Our Pride”, during which they shot salvos at members of the press and some sections of the ruling BDP, saying that they are responsible for the bad press that the president has been receiving.
The youth threatened further reprisals and legal action against Khama’s detractors and, as in the ‘the kill for Zuma saga’, vowed to fight tooth and nail to defend his integrity.
The march attracted high profile BDP members in Francistown, including Serema, Francistown Mayor Buti Billy, women’s wing President Angelina Sengalo, Francistown region chairperson Botho Ntirang and representatives from areas like Serowe, Tonota North, Boteti and Mahalapye.
However, in a strange twist of events, the Francistown South and Francistown West constituencies did not take part in the march.
This raised eyebrows within some sectors of the BDP who found it strange that a major party event would attract representatives from far flung constituencies but exclude two of the three constituencies in the city.
Francistown West and South are manned by Tshelang Masisi and Wynter Molotsi, who are staunch Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe loyalists.
A youth representative from Francistown West, who preferred not to be named, revealed that they were not invited to the march.
“There is no way we could have played an active role in the march because we were not formally invited. Not even a letter was faxed or sent to our constituency offices,” she said.
Wynter Molotsi also said that they had not been invited.
But Serema remains adamant that the non attendance of the two constituencies is a non starter, saying that the march was an exclusive.
“I would not want to dwell on the issue because it was organized by Francistown East. What is important though is that the march has attracted democrats from outside Francistown even though it was organized at constituency level,” he said.
He, however, admitted that the march was somewhat of a flop because it had failed to attract many BDP members.
“But we must understand that this is a working day. At the same time, it coincides with the day of the African child,” he reasoned.
But many within the BDP circles remain convinced that the march was yet another campaign strategy by the A-Team, especially because it excluded constituencies which are deemed to be loyal to barata-phathi.
This contention was further fuelled by the presenters who took the opportunity to launch scathing attacks on Daniel Kwelagobe (DK).
Francistown Region chairman, Botho Ntirang, led the onslaught on DK and his loyalists accusing them of spreading falsehoods about Khama by claiming that the President is desecrating the BDP constitution.
“Those are total lies. There is no way Ian Khama can deny anyone their constitutional right because he is a fair man,” said Ntirang.
He further defended the President’s endorsement of A-Team candidate for the chairmanship, Tebelelo Seretse, saying that Khama has the right of choice just like any democrat.
In apparent reference to the recent launch of Tati East MP, Simon Guma Moyo, which was preceded by a fund-raising dinner, Ntirang further accused barata-phathi of using party candidate launches, fundraising dinners and even their weddings to launch central committee campaigns.
The BDP has, of late, been beleaguered by factional disputes which came to the fore a couple of weeks ago during the launches of Guma Moyo and Vice President Mompati Merafhe.
Khama, who has publicly aligned himself with the A-Team, officiated at Merafhe’s launch while DK was the Guest of Honour at Guma Moyo’s launch.
It was during the two launches that the factional disputes reached boiling point.
Khama is reported to have told the gathering that DK is a power hungry individual who has reneged on an earlier agreement that he will not stand for the chairmanship this time around.
At the same time, the barata-phathi also used Guma Moyo’s launch to tell their delegates that they will stand by the constitution and challenge the other camp to critically analyze the quality of their leadership.