Newly elected Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General, Jacob Nkate, last week gave Francistown councilors a stern warning that the party Central Committee will severely deal with those who continue to break the party rules and regulations by engaging in public spats and airing the party’s dirty laundry in public.
While the BDP Executive Secretary, Comma Serema, insists that the Secretary General was on a familiarization tour of all the districts in Botswana, insiders have revealed that the crux of his Francistown visit was to try and dissolve the debilitating factional disputes that have rocked the party for some time.
During the BDP meeting, Nkate did not mince his words when he told the BDP members that the CC was sick and tired of their continuous bickering and would not hesitate to take stern disciplinary action against those who opt to address internal party issues in public instead of amicably solving them through existing party structures. He reminded the democrats that party unity is very important for their success as politicians and the tendency of some party members, especially the councilors, to battle it out in public is detrimental to progress as it demolished the public’s opinion of the party.
The BDP councilors in Francistown have, over the years, engaged in dramatic public brawls that have always been fought along the party’s traditional factional lines despite the leadership’s repeated denials of the existence of the faction.
The mayoral race, for example, has since the 2004 elections pitted outspoken Monarch councilor, Ignatius Moswaane, a Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe loyalist, against incumbent Mayor Buti Billy who has the backing of master strategist Peter Ngoma, a staunch member of the so-called A-team. The mayoral race has always proved to be a dramatic event and a highlight of Francistown’s political calendar, replete with bruising political battles between BDP candidates. Last year the BDP leadership had to intervene in the build up to what was promising to be yet another epic battle between Moswaane and Billy forcing its members into a caucus to elect a mayoral candidate and present a united front at the FCC chambers. But Moswaane, who lost to Billy, was not fazed as he went on to castigate the party’s caucus system as an undemocratic tool used by control freaks within the party who were bent on imposing their preferred candidates onto the electorate instead of letting democracy take its course.
While Serema insists that Nkate’s warning will go a long way in curbing the vigilante tendencies of the BDP membership, insiders have revealed that there is trouble brewing in the build up to the party’s primary elections as the factions will be more evident than ever. The BDP has in the past had problems with its Bulela Ditswe system as some disgruntled members ended up de-campaigning their party and even urging the electorates to vote for the opposition.
The Sunday Standard is informed that BDP functionaries are preparing for yet another bruising battle in the build up to the primary elections as bitter rivalries already exist in the Francistown South and Francistown West constituencies, all of them fuelled by traditional BDP factions.
Francistown West MP, Tshelang Masisi, will have his hands full as he battles to parry challenges from Peter Ngoma and Sylvia Muzila. Masisi, who has the backing of the vocal Moswaane, has on many occasions accused Muzila of using her position as District Commissioner to campaign in his constituency. Even before the party had permitted campaigns for the primaries, Ngoma declared that he would challenge Masisi in Francistown South. At the height of the controversy, members of the A-team led by Ngoma and Billy petitioned the CC to sanction Moswaane and take disciplinary action against him as he had, on more than one occasion, publicly denounced party policy, broken numerous party rules and regulations and made startling personal attacks on Vice President Ian Khama.
In Francistown South, incumbent MP Khumo Maoto will also have to fight extra hard to foil the persistent challenges of immediate past regional Secretary General Wynter Molotsi who is also a Kedikilwe/Kwelagobe loyalist.