President Ian Khama has advised those vying for political office within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) not to desert the party if they lose elections, either at the elective congress or the party’s primaries.
With both the party central committee elections and the party’s primaries elections around the corner, party activists are lobbying for support ahead of the July Congress and primaries for both parliamentary and municipal seats slated for sometime end of this year.
Khama said he will not accept the campaigns for party positions and political office to spiral the party into factionalism.
“This time around, I do not expect these to degenerate into acrimonious, divisive and conflict-ridden farce or exercises, as we have too often, witnessed in the past, to the detriment of the long-term health prospects and stability of the party,” Khama said this on Friday while officially opening the party’s national council.
The President reiterated that he would not tolerate factions to creep back into the party.
“Every democrat needs to bear in mind that we will always have differences of opinion on many issues…however, what is intolerable is when such otherwise normal differences and preferences, are allowed to undermine the collective good of the party. This will not be tolerated by me and all others who are genuinely committed to growing this party,” said Khama.
Khama said that history from the eve of the 2009 general elections has shown that the BDP is at its weakest when members fight each other.
Without mentioning names, Khama said that some victors at party primaries tend to think that they own a particular constituency or ward, adding that this tends to isolate other party members.
“Candidates, for their part, must understand that whilist they are the standard-bearers for our party in designated constituencies, such constituencies are not their personal property whereby it is only themselves who can direct and control party activities, including campaigning in those areas,” he said.
The party President said that there is a disturbing culture within the BDP where, if their preferred candidate loses the party primaries, they vote for opposition candidates.
“Once a candidate has been elected, and regardless of our subjective feelings about the individual, all of us are enjoined to assist that individual as best as we can for the advancement of the party’s success,”
Meanwhile, party chairman Daniel Kwelagobe has expressed concern that the ruling party’s popular vote is on the decline.
He warned that the party could eventually lose state power if members do not canvass support to raise its popular appeal.
The council is expected to be briefed by ministers on policy issues while the party leadership is also expected to submit on the state of the party.