If the latest developments at the Botswana Peoples’ Party are anything to go by, the theme, ‘United We Stand’, with which they will address the national conference, will be thrown to the dogs in favour of a bare-knuckled brawl between some disgruntled members and the party leadership.
Party President, Bernard Balikani, and his beleaguered Secretary General, Edward Mpoloka, are expected to face the full wrath of an irate membership, led by the youth wing, who will be demanding answers for some controversial decisions that the leadership took in the past.
The membership will also demand an explanation from the leadership as to why the party has been experiencing a spate of resignations by some prominent executive committee members who many perceived to be staunch BPP members.
“They must explain why we are losing valuable members to other parties. These are people whose input has, over the years, immensely contributed to the growth of the party and we suspect that their resignations are related to BPP’s controversial leadership,” said a BPP insider.
There is no love lost between the BPP executive and the youth league, and the acrimonious relations will come to the fore at the conference. A BPP insider told The Sunday Standard that the conference will prove to be one of the most challenging in Balikani’s presidential career and if not handled properly the party’s internal wrangling may escalate into irreparable damages from which the party will never be able to recover.
More rifts emerged recently when a furor broke out over the venue of the party’s conference. BPP’s only representative in the North East District Council, Tongomani Dan, who is an outspoken critic of Balikani’s leadership, told The Sunday Standard that the leadership seems to be bent on undermining his representation in the north east.
According to Dan, the BPP conference was supposed to be held at Themashanga, which falls under his influence as a BPP councilor. But the conference was suddenly moved to Shanganani CJSS in Tsamaya and the Themashanga venue shelved in a move which many say was meant to punish Dan for his continuous jabs at the BPP executive.
But the outspoken councilor was not amused and he told The Sunday Standard that he was given flimsy explanations when he questioned the sudden change of venue. He poured water on the BPP executive‘s explanation that the Themashanga venue was too small to accommodate a conference of that caliber saying that the party did not have a very large following that warranted a larger venue.
Dan added that other arrangements could be made and marquees erected to accommodate people if the village hall proved to be too small. Dan also said that the leadership was setting a bad precedent and relaying a very discriminatory message to the electorate.
”Basically, what Balikani and his leadership are saying is that small constituencies will always be segregated and only large constituencies will be visited and allowed to host congresses,” he said.
Another thorny issue that is expected to breed fireworks at the congress is the appointment of Mpoloka to the position of Secretary General. The youth league has never shied away from an opportunity to lambast Balikani’s decision to appoint Mpoloka Secretary General, dismissing him as a despot whose actions have always been detrimental to the party.
Dan told The Sunday Standard that they would not rest until Balikani gave them an explanation, and that they would further their cause and refuse to endorse Mpoloka if they are not satisfied with his explanation.
In a hitherto unknown development, Dan revealed that Mpoloka had earlier resigned from the position of Deputy Secretary General after differences with then Secretary General, Cornelius Gopolang, and a woman was appointed in an acting capacity. He charges that they were surprised when, after the resignation of Gopolang, the president then went and handpicked Mpoloka who was languishing in resignation and appointed him secretary general at the expense of other more deserving members. He scoffed at Balikani’s leadership qualities saying that they are divisive as by appointing Mpoloka he had sent a clear message to Gopolang that he was taking sides. Dan also revealed that if they are not satisfied with the president’s explanation they will nominate organizing secretary, Peter Feni, and push for an election.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Mpoloka dismissed those who are against his appointment saying that the president acted within his powers when he appointed him. He said that though he is aware that some elements within the party are against his appointment, he did not know of any active lobby to nominate someone else and force an election.