Some Botswana Congress Party members are still seething from the party’s decision to cede the Francistown West constituency to the Botswana Alliance Movement ahead of the 2009 general elections.
The Sunday Standard investigations have unraveled pockets of discontent and disgruntlement within the BCP structures, especially after it emerged that the party would have stood a greater chance of snatching the constituency from the BDP in light of the rampant infighting between BDP primary election candidates Tshelang Masisi, Sylvia Muzila and Peter Ngoma.
The signing of the BCP/BAM accord saw BCP’s 2004 parliamentary candidate, Whyte Marobela, being pushed aside to make way for BAM Secretary General Matlhomola Modise, a development which culminated in Marobela resigning to join the Botswana Peoples Party as their parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
Word from within the BCP structures in Francistown is that the opposition party has managed to attract disgruntled BDP members who are not happy with the goings on at the ruling party, and there is a general expectation that more will come to seek solace from the BCP, especially as it looks like there will be no end to the epic battle between Muzila, Ngoma and Masisi.
However, many feel the BCP shot itself in the foot when they sacrificed Marobela in favour of Modise, primarily because there is a general consensus that the former is a better candidate who commands a lot of support in the constituency. In the 2004 general elections, Marobela came second to Masisi garnering 1539 votes and beating BPP President Bernard Balikani.
On the other hand, Modise, who was pitted against BDP’s Khumo Maoto and BCP’s Vain Mamela in Francistown South, came a distant third, trailing second placed Mamela with more than 1800 votes. To that end, some BCP members contend that it has always been evident that Modise, who in 2004 was contesting on behalf of three parties after the BNF, BAM and BPP electoral pact, is not a strong candidate as he failed to make an impact in the 2004 general elections. Thus the disgruntlement when, after the signing of the BAM/BCP accord, a decision was made to uproot Modise from Francistown South and impose him at Francistown West, sacrificing Marobela who had all along been performing well.
Many within the BCP doubt Modise’s ability to capitalize on the disparities inherent in the BDP, and nostalgia reigns supreme as some feel that Marobela would have been a better candidate, had he not been lost to BPP.
Despite his popularity in Francsitown West, it is doubtful if Marobela will make an impact under the BPP, as the party seems to be ill prepared for the general elections. Since the 2004 general elections, the BPP has been slowly fading into oblivion and it seems the party structures are non existent. Some on the other hand argue that the combined vote of Marobela and Balikani, who garnered 1509 votes in 2004, can offset Masisi’s reign. But to many this is just a pipe dream. For one they argue that it is not a given that Marobela defected from the BCP with a sizeable number of voters. Secondly detractors of this line of thought argue that the support that the BPP might have enjoyed in 2004 has dissipated as the party has deteriorated since the last general elections. To that end they argue that the only way Marobela would have been able to beat Masisi is if he would have contested under the BCP ticket.
In a previous interview with The Sunday Standard BCP Secretary General Taolo Lucas urged members to appreciate the importance of the BAM/BCP accord and look at the bigger picture. He explained that the constituency allocations were made in the spirit of the cooperation talks and compromise and sacrifice for the common objective of unseating BDP from power.
“While most constituencies were allocated on the principle of proportionality we had to make concessions to accommodate our cooperation partners in line with the spirit of sacrifice and compromise which are the key pillars on which this pact is based” he said at the time.
He urged members to note that their executive will always negotiate in the best interests of the party and democracy.