In a cramped up conference room at Falcon Crest suites, former Barata Phathi messiah, Gomolemo Motswaledi, publicly announced his resignation from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Motswaledi called a news conference to announce his resignation from a party that had suspended him for the next 5 years.
He might as well have called a public meeting at a community hall; the crowd outside the overcrowded room was restless and annoyed at the fact that they could barely hear a word that was being said inside.
In the conference room, one could spot a number of both opposition and ruling party politicians present in the crowd.
With Kabo Morwaeng by his side, Motswaledi took the floor and announced that as of 11am that Wednesday, he had officially tendered in his resignation as member and suspended secretary general of BDP.
Motswaledi said that the BDP he joined back in the old days had no members expelled, suspended, marginalised or treated unkindly for differing with commonly held views.
“I left the BDP because the state it is in right now proves that it is the party to leave. I personally have had to override serving what looks like a five-year suspension while, in actual fact, it is a ten-year term,” he said.
Known as a man who is both evasive and eloquent with words, Motswaledi read out his resignation speech with no microphone to a somewhat anxious group of attendants.
As the floor was opened to the media and the public for questions, it became clear why the news conference was full.
Everyone was curious as to whether or not Motswaledi was the leader of the new party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
At first, he tried to explain that the conference was only meant to address his resignation from the BDP, but it became apparent that all questions asked were directed towards the new party.
“The new party does not have a leader yet; leadership is yet to come after the people have elected them. Right now the BMD is in the hands of the EXCO executive members who comprise of Chairman Botsalo Ntuane and deputy chairman Kabo Morwaeng as well as BMD spokesperson, Sidney Pilane,” said Motswaledi.
More questions were raised from the floor as the crowd got excited by the late entrance of BMD spokesperson, Sidney Pilane, who had to literally push his way into the overcrowded room.
People wanted to know how the BMD will be different from other political parties and they wanted to know about the new party’s manifesto. Some wanted Motswaledi to respond to the President’s media release in which he (Khama) called the former Barata Phathi activists ‘self-seeking and power hungry’.
Motswaledi answered by revealing that the party doesn’t have a manifesto as yet, and that there was a string of members who were working on the issue and holding discussions about it.
He made a joke about opposition parties before revealing that they were receiving advice from them.
“For a long time now, we have been used to advocating for the ruling party politics, the transition to opposition politics will not be easy, however we have been getting advice on how to settle in from other opposition parties who are not bitter at us for not joining them,” said Motswaledi.
He became evasive again when he dealt with Khama’s statements.
“You said that someone said we were self-seeking and power hungry, that is a label that they are allowed to make unless its something that warrants them being taken to court,” said Motswaledi.
One media practitioner, who obviously got caught up in the euphoria of the moment, pointed out to Motswaledi that the reason the room was full was because the BMD had aroused high expectations in the generality of Batswana.
“Two years ago when Khama ascended to the presidency, my paper published an article that said that Khama should not squander the goodwill of the nation; some people thought we were being unreasonable. Your situation today shows everything we warned about. I therefore have to say that with the high expectations that have risen from this movement, the BMD should not squander the goodwill from the nation,” said the practitioner.