For the first time in its history, the Botswana Democratic Party will not hold any sort of meeting these coming President’s Day holidays. Historically, party structures take turns holding meetings during the holidays but the Youth League, whose turn was up this year, has already held its congress in May.
The party’s executive secretary, Dr. Comma Serema, says that this year the party leadership decided to give members a chance to “worship, be with their families or go touring.”
For people like Serema, the holiday has already begun as there is no need to be going through the quite elaborate logistical choreography of booking venues, arranging for accommodation and other preparatory work needed to put a congress together.
However, the party’s schedule for next year is rather crowded as it will hold national, women’s wing and special congresses. Serema says that they are toying with the idea of bringing the national congress forward so that members get to enjoy another President’s Day holiday.
The July weather was also a consideration for freeing up the President’s Day holidays for members. Congresses are attended by thousands of delegates, a majority of whom have to rough it on cold floors of government school classrooms. The grim weather also affects attendance at plenary sessions.
While BDP members will be worshipping, reconnecting with family and holidaying, it will be business as usual for better-known opposition parties. The BNF holds a conference in Jwaneng, the Botswana Congress Party a congress in Bobonong and the Botswana Alliance Movement a conference in Francistown.
The BNF’s meeting promises to be the most interesting. That is because plans to oust party leader, Otsweletse Moupo, have not been abandoned.
A BNF source says that the anti-Moupo will go on the offensive at next week’s conference.
“They still maintain that Moupo should resign. At this point, they are still mobilising support around the country and building momentum towards the conference. The daggers will come out at the conference,” the source says.
The issue of Moupo’s resignation is not on the agenda but that does not mean that the conference cannot discuss it because there are ways that it can be tabled. Moupo is expected to address this issue in his own speech. That would provide a perfect opportunity for his detractors to engage him from the floor.
Another way the issue can be forced onto the agenda is to have commissions ÔÇô discussion groups at the conference ÔÇô tackle the issue and provide feedback which may not be in Moupo’s favour.
The campaign to oust the BNF leader is led by the anti-Moupo faction proper but there is also another group of erstwhile Moupo supporters which began to desert him when it began to feel that he was losing grassroots support that would be so vital in the poll booth next year. Some of them are candidates in the upcoming general election. A possibility being suggested is that these groups will coalesce around a common palace coup agenda and rid the BNF of Moupo as party leader.
In the constitutional scheme of things, the only structure that can vote Moupo out of office is the national congress and the worst possible outcome for his political future would be the conference making a resolution that a special congress be held.
However, the congress’ outcome could also have the effect of further dividing the party. The immediate past president of the Youth League and former Gaborone mayor, Nelson Ramaotwana, has indicated that yet another leadership election would produce an outcome that would not be acceptable to some party members and lead to a fresh round of factional fighting.
The holding of a special congress gives no guarantee that Moupo can be voted out of office as he can repeat what he did last year at the Molepolole special congress. His ticket won all positions contested for.