There was standing room only inside the huge Letlhabile Hall. Motorists roamed outside the yard in search of parking space as the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) members and well wishers came in their hundreds, braving the first blast of winter and the chilly drizzle to attend the party’s convention on Saturday.
By late morning, animated by their big numbers, the orange tinted opposition was glowing with exhilaration as the rush of optimism coursed through the ranks massed at Letlhabile Primary School in Gaborone West South.
Most were wearing orange, sometimes orange hats, sometimes orange T-shirts or blankets, flashing V-signs and howling “Botswana warona” (our Botswana) in delight.
Indications are that whatever happens from this point on, Botswana politics may never be the same: children have turned against parents, husbands against wives and councilors against their members of parliament as the BMD orange revolution sweeps through traditional Botswana Democratic Party die-hard families and constituencies.
Education Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s husband was among the many smiling faces that shook hands and hugged in groups of orange huddle puddles that formed outside the Letlhabile Hall.
Former President Sir Ketumile Masire’s son, Moabi, also seemed at home among the orange throng that massed at Letlhabile.
Former Senior Minister and current BDP National Chairperson, Daniel Kwelagobe’s children came in force to support the new party. Also present were Sedirwa Kgoroba, son of late Education Minister George Kgoroba and Boitumelo Kgabo daughter of the late BDP founder and cabinet minister Englishman Kgabo.
Then there was Ruth Kedikilwe, daughter of BDP former National Chairman and current Minister of Minerals, Ponatshego Kedikilwe. At least one child of the late Minister of Agriculture, Geoffrey Oteng is a known strong BMD sympathiser.
The same applies to Ndaba Gaolathe, the son of the recently deceased long time Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Tonota North.
There are indications that the fault-lines run from BDP families right up to party constituencies: BDP sitting councilors attended the BMD convention in big numbers, sparking speculations that an alliance of BMD and other opposition parties may take over all the country’s councils except the Central District Council.
Among those affected is assistant Minister of Health Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri whose councilors in Molepolole North constituency are reported to be defecting to the BMD in droves. Molepolole is a traditional BDP stronghold.
Cracks in the BDP are also being felt in Serowe which is President Ian Khama’s home village and the party’s traditional heartland. About eight sitting councilors from Serowe North West constituency attended the BMD convention on Saturday. Tshekedi inherited the constituency from President Ian Khama.
The BMD convention had delegates from all 57 constituencies.