Botswana People’s Party Secretary General, Edward Mpoloka, on Friday lashed out at the leadership of his party, calling them undemocratic individuals who have fallen to the whims of newcomer and Botswana Congress Party dissenter, Whyte Marobela.
Mpoloka’s torrent of abuse comes after the BPP national conference, which was held in Francistown last weekend, failed to return him as council candidate for Botsalano Ward and upheld an earlier application by parliamentary candidate Whyte Marobela that he be barred from contesting the October general elections.
The embattled secretary general had pinned his hopes on the party national conference to revoke an earlier decision by the party central committee to bar him from contesting the October general elections under the BPP banner.
He had earlier confirmed to The Sunday Standard that he had indeed received a letter signed by party president, Bernard Balikani, to the effect that the party central committee had decided, at a meeting held in May, to withdraw his candidacy for the Botsalano Ward.
Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that Mpoloka’s purging came after BPP’s parliamentary candidate in Francistown West, Whyte Marobela, raised a complaint that Mpoloka is decampaigning him and rooting for incumbent Member of Parliament and Botswana Democratic Party candidate, Tshelang Masisi.
Mpoloka admitted in an earlier interview that he has never had a good working relationship with Marobela, but poured water on the latter’s accusations, saying that his loyalty lies first and foremost with the BPP.
“It is true that I had a number of disagreements with Marobela. But I have never leveled any accusations against him. For him to accuse me of campaigning for Masisi is quite preposterous,” he said at the time.
But when speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Mpoloka was not as reserved as he had been earlier, launching a scathing attack on the BPP leadership as an undemocratic lot who upheld the decision to recall him without giving him and his supporters a fair chance to defend themselves.
“This preposterous decision should not be associated with the national conference because it was clear from the word go that the party leadership had decided, even before presenting the case to the people, that they will not endorse my candidature. How could they take such a drastic action without any investigations whatsoever?” he said.
He further accused the party leadership of denying him and his supporters an opportunity to defend themselves and deliberate on the case, adding that his issue was treated as an afterthought after less important items had been dealt with.
“No one was allowed to deliberate on the issue, and it was a very sad day for democracy in the BPP,” he charged.
Mpoloka also added that it was disheartening that, while the BPP was holding their national conference under the theme “democracy under threat”, they would go on and display the very dictatorial and totalitarian tendencies that they were condemning their political opponents for.
“It was said at the conference that Batswana should guard against the ruling BDP which is clearly showing signs of a dictatorship by eroding national discussion and disregarding the will of the masses. But the very leaders who had earlier decried such uncalled for behavior would later display the very tendencies that they condemned in the ruling party,” he said.
Mpoloka also dismissed BPP President Bernard Balikani as “a gullible individual who has fallen, hook line and sinker, to the whims of the manipulative Marobela”.
Marobela defected to the BPP in disgruntlement after the Botswana Congress Party shunned him as a parliamentary candidate for Francistown West, favouring Botswana Alliance Movement Deputy Chairman, Matlhomola Modise, in the BAM/BCP marriage of convenience.
“As soon as he arrived in the party, he sank his claws on Balikani, and the poor president lost his bearings immediately. It is sad to see a president who displays no independent thought but leads as per the whims of another individual in Marobela, who evidently has only his interests and those of his cronies at heart,” charged Mpoloka.
The feud between Marobela and Mpoloka reportedly sparked off as soon as they started working together in the BPP and they have never been able to reconcile. Mpoloka said on Friday that after joining the BPP, Marobela insisted on imposing his own preferred candidates for the council primaries, while he insisted on equal chances for all.
“I felt that every member of the BPP should be given a chance to contest primary elections,” he said. He added that even during the BPP primary elections Marobela was openly campaigning for his preferred candidates, which was wrong of him as he should have been neutral, especially since he was the parliamentary candidate and the team leader.
Mpoloka would later defeat Maggie Seolwane, Marobela’s preferred candidate twice in the Francistown West primary elections. But the national conference last week withdrew Mpoloka’s candidature and endorsed Seolwane as the preferred candidate for Botsalano Ward.
Political analysts had earlier expressed surprise at the recent developments because Mpoloka is a close ally of party president Bernard Balikani.
At a time when the BPP was facing its hardest challenges, with the youth wing and the central committee at loggerheads, and executive committee members resigning en-masse to join other political parties, Mpoloka was the only one who stood by Balikani.
Even when then Secretary General Cornelius Gopolang resigned from the BPP, Balikani went and handpicked Mpoloka, who had earlier resigned as deputy secretary general, to fill in the void created by Gopolang, a move that sparked a lot of discontent among many BPP functionaries.
Mpoloka on Friday reiterated that he had fallen out with Balikani after realizing that the party president had completely fallen under Marobela’s spell.
“Marobela is just too powerful for Balikani. He has destroyed our relationship and is now on a one way route to a dismal loss in the general elections, taking the BPP with him,” he said.
Mpoloka also said that it is sad that Balikani and his central committee would fall under the spell of “a man who will at most get only 500 votes during the general elections”.
“There is a lot of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction bred by Marobela’s continued interference in the BPP,” he added.
He would not shed light as to what his next course of action will be, save to say that he is still deliberating with his supporters in the constituency.