The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is on a mission to weaken opposition Alliance for Progressives (AP)’s key regional structures across the country.
In a recent closed-door meeting held by party leadership, it was agreed that 10 AP constituencies should be weakened through recruitment of key members before end of this year.
The Telegraph understands that the targeted AP constituencies are Gabane-Mmankgodi, Francistown South, Mogoditshane, Takatokwane, Francistown West, Okavango, Gaborone Central and Gaborone Bonnington South.
The BDP has so far recruited the AP 2019 general elections parliamentary candidate for Palapye Gape Motswaledi.
Recently President Mokgweetsi Masisi went to Maun to officiate at the North West electricity grid where he took time to welcome Maun West AP 2019 parliamentary candidate Moalosi Sebati.
This is seen by the party leadership to be a powerful strategy to weaken opposition parties as they plan to engage in cooperation talks.
A close source has said each region has been tasked with ensuring that key members of the AP are brought into the BDP fold before year end.
“Regional chairmen of the party have long been instructed to work on the strategy. If it was not for Covid-19, we would be having events to welcome them. We are still waiting for more. I can assure you that before July this year, one AP key figure will be joining the party,” said the source.
Sources further said although this has been largely welcomed by the party, it has however been seen as another strategy to get rid of some party members of Parliament.
“I can only say that we are preparing for congress and some key figures within the party are assembling foot soldiers to consolidate their seats” added source.
For his part, BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse confirmed that indeed the party is on an intensive recruitment drive.
“Recruitment is a permanent action on the BDP agenda. It targets opposition members and the non-aligned. AP is not an exclusion to that,” he said.
“We are recruiting from all angles and yes we hope to have big catches from AP like we do from any other party, we recently welcomed 2 AP 2019 MP candidates including UDC candidate for Gaborone North in 2019, we are busy” said Kentse.
On whether or not the party will allow the individuals to contest the upcoming elective congress and primary elections, Kentse said although the party constitution dictates that one can only contest after staying for two years that can be waved.
Kentse also dismissed allegations that the party promises individuals financial rewards and tenders.
“The party does not promise anyone anything. Some of them have lost confidence in the opposition hence they come out to the mighty red machine. Remember that opposition is in a complete mess and turmoil,” Kentse said.
Recently, Kentse took to social media to post pictures of AP Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi and chairman Pius Mokgware without any caption.
In response, AP Secretary General, Dr Phenyo Butale said the party is aware of the dirty tricks played by the BDP.
“We are aware of the BDP’s unscrupulous cheque book recruitment drive that pounces on the victims of the ruling party’s failed economic programs,” Butale said.
“A few of our 2019 candidates have fallen victim to this drive and have decamped, we are however not worried because our party continues to receive more members than it is losing,” said Butale.
Meanwhile, political science lecturer at the University of Botswana, Leonard Sesa said politics is about numbers and all political parties are looking at short term strategies to make their organizations stronger and appealing to electorates.
He also said most of the AP figures are familiar with the BDP and therefore will not be in any how much of a surprise move.
“A lot of AP members are from BDP, they know their political ideologies, so I still want to believe that they will continue doing well in the BDP,” said Sesa.
Sesa also urged the BDP to revise the party primary elections as it has proven to cause disgruntlement over the years, something which resulted in exile of many politicians.
This is not the first time that BDP has targeted opposition parties. When Mokgweetsi Masisi became chairman of the party, he recruited more members from the Botswana Congress Party such as Tumiso Rakgare, Lotty Manyapetsa, Bagalatia Aaron, Kentse Rramidi and others.