An inside plan by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) high command to purge members sympathetic to Fankie Motsaathebe who had lost in the primary elections backfired as the members in question then turned their backs against party candidate Eric Molale and went on to vote the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
This was said by two Members of Parliament who were close to the BDP campaign in Goodhope/Mabule.
The two spoke on condition of anonymity.
They said the party went into the elections divided as some members felt that Motsaathebe had been unfairly sidelined by the party in favour of Molale.
According to one of the MPs, apart from the fact that the BDP was divided, campaigns in the area were never easy because potential voters did not welcome the BDP into their homes. He said there was ample evidence that Molale was a hard-sell for the BDP.
“Doors were closed before our faces and it was demoralising. It was not easy to sell Eric Molale because of his relationship with the people of Barolong. They consider him as an arrogant person who doesn’t have respect for anyone. We tried to turn things around and sell the party instead but the problem was that these days it is not all about the party, it is about the person’s capabilities and what they are known for,” said the MP who is also a minister.
He said no matter how hard they tried to talk to people the people refused to embrace the BDP.
“That is when I and a colleague I was with concluded that we were not going to win this battle. Everytime time when they thought we were on a campaign trail we would take a drive out of the constituency and come back later and pretend that we had been seeing people in their homes. We never campaigned for Molale…” he said.
According to the MP, another factor that contributed to the BDP poor performance was the party’s decision to sideline party strongman Daniel Kwelagobe who had been sympathetic to Motsaathebe.
It is understood that Kwelagobe believes that Motsaathebe was hard done by the party when his decision to challenge the outcome of the primary elections was swiftly suppressed by the leadership.
This publication has learnt that after Motsaathebe lost the primaries those who had supported him were not allowed in the constituency. Kwelagobe was one of them.
According to the MP who spoke to this publication, a decision was taken at one of the caucuses to ban Kwelagobe from Good Hope/Mabule constituency until after the by election.
“This shows how BDP was divided prior to the by election. We discussed this and advised the party leadership but they undermined our opinions about the threat posed by sidelining Kwelagobe,” said the Minister.
“Our view was that Kwelagobe as an elder who understands politics than most of us in the party should be the captain of the ship that was taking the BDP to the by election but instead he was told not to set his foot in Good Hope Mabule constituency until after the by election was over,” he said.
The MP said President Ian Khama’s brother and Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism was also instructed not to set foot in the constituency but he nonetheless made his way to the constituency during Molale’s launch.
Members of the ruling party say all of the above and other factors are the reasons Kgosi Lotlaamoreng garnered 6152 while Molale got 4372 votes and BCP got 385 votes. Lotlaamoreng is the new Member of Parliament for Goodhope/Mabule constituency.