Feud is brewing in the Kweneng South East constituency between political office aspirants in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
A fraction of them is moving around Gabane and surrounding areas wearing red while others wait for the ‘right time’. The name of a former senior government officer in the Poverty Eradication Initiative is frequently being mentioned by ‘complainants’.
They claim he and his team are breaking the party laws by doing house to house campaigning prematurely.
He apparently aspires for the legislative seat of the constituency; bound to be called Gabane/Mankgodi in the next general elections. To these accusations, Colonel Duke Masilo says he is not campaigning but selling the BDP.
“Electorates have not seen BDP activists for a long time. They now think the party has been swallowed by other parties like Botswana Movement for Democracy. That is why we are going around wearing red, so as to remind them that the party still exists. I cannot campaign before time,” said Masilo in a telephone interview.
But his critics question the approach where only he and his campaign teams are involved in the exercise, instead of the whole BDP.
Masilo sounded perplexed in response to that: “I am puzzled by these accusations. Why can’t these people ask me instead of talking through the media? This time it is the radio stations, next it is newspapers. It is not only those in my camp. In fact, I do not have a faction. I am not a candidate but an aspirant just like those I do not know. I am willing to work with anyone willing to voluntarily sell BDP. But there are people who just expressed interest to stand while they are unwilling to part with any money.”
He said it was costly to print t-shirts, travel around to re-register members whose membership expired. He emphasised the fact that they are going to do house to house once the vetting period has passed at the BDP. He went around even with people from Metsimotlhabe and other areas.
He dismisses as untrue allegations that he goes around back-biting the incumbent MP, Mmoloki Raletobana. Some aspirants say he and his team are in the practise of telling electorates that they are better candidates. Anonymous ordinary citizens also echoed these.
“He told me that Raletobana is from Gabane but has failed the community as Gabane is underdeveloped. No wonder he quit Civil Service to join politics,” said an old BDP member who did not want to be mentioned.
Another mentioned that his (Masilo) team tipped him that he is a better candidate as he is going to be Cabinet Minister should he stand for and win 2014 elections.
His critics say his campaign is further shown by an article in Mmegi Monitor of 15 April 2013, page 4. Titled ‘Masilo Towers over Raletobana’.
The article quotes Councillor Laedza Chalebgwa as having joked that ‘they were led by their MP’, referring to Masilo. It further reads, ‘Masilo confirmed that he was head of delegation of his constituency during the Letlhakeng West bye-election but said he stepped into the plate because there was no leader’.
To Masilo, the article is but its writer’s opinion. It had nothing to do with his party selling mission. Even the Brach office knows of the mission, he said, adding that it was agreed in a congress that Democrats should go out and sell their party.
Contacted for comment, the Brach Chairman, Joseph Makati, told Sunday Standard that he knows nothing about Democrats who are doing house to house campaign. He testifies that Congress has urged all members to go out and sell the party. No aspirant is tasked with this as it is even too early to know who the aspirants are.
“I have not heard any formal complaint – written or verbal – so I know nothing about it. We have an MP in Raletobana. No aspiring candidate is known. I don’t know of any Democrat in my branch de-campaigning another,” said Makati.
Makati did not want to comment on the article that appeared in The Monitor because he wanted to meet and discuss it with Masilo but has not done so due to his busy schedule.
For his part, the incumbent, Raletobana, said he heard rumours that people are going house to house, adding that it was wrong to do so as it was premature.