The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership is putting together a dirty tricks campaign to stop the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) from taking over government in 2019 ÔÇô a leaked transcript of the party’s closed door session of the recent National Council has revealed.
The BDP seems to have resolved to take the low road, and a number of its leaders have put forward suggestions on how to abuse public resources to stop the UDC from winning the 2019 General Elections.
Among shady plans which enjoy support at the highest structures of party and government is to award council tenders to BDP members in a bid to strengthen the party war chest in the run-up to the elections. The proposal to divert public funds to party functionaries was made by Chairman of Southern District Council, Alec Seametso.
The BDP firebrand who has a penchant for playing dirty advised President Ian Khama that councillors be allowed to oversee the award and administration of council tenders so that BDP members could be empowered by winning such tenders ahead of the 2019 General Elections. Seametso said at the moment procurement is controlled by technical officers who empower the opposition. “Trade unions have instructed officials to empower their comrades”.
The proposal was supported by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane. Responsibilities of Tsogwane’s portfolio include councils.
The plan is expected to have the support of his Assistant Minister, Botlhogile Tshireletso although she did not comment on it. Tshireletso, Tsogwane and Health Minister Dorcus Makgatho have in the past been linked to a shadowy plan by the BDP to buy votes by promising pork ÔÇô barrel development funding.
In another shady proposal a former Member of Parliament, Odirile Motlhale, advised President Khama to appoint a delimitation commission to increase the number of constituencies as a strategy of stretching opposition resources. Incidentally Motlhale has previously been a Member of Parliament for opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
Khama, however, rejected Motlhale’s proposal saying there was no guarantee it would work for the BDP as the delimitation commission could not be controlled to conform to BDP priorities.
“The Delimitation Commission is independent. As in the past they might make things even more difficult for us. Parliament controls the number of constituencies, but not the borders of those constituencies or which ones are increased.”
BDP Head of Strategy, Vincent Seretse implored the party to forego council and parliamentary primary elections in constituencies where BDP members are incumbents. He said that would guarantee the BDP victory in 2019.
That did not secure traction from either the members or the party.
A number of BDP members also argued that elections should be cancelled at the July Congress, to protect Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi from being challenged for the position of Chairmanship.
This was rejected by Member of Parliament Biggie Butale and party longtime strongman Daniel Kwelagobe who said elections and contest for positions were enshrined in the BDP constitution.
“I was attracted to the BDP because the party was to me democratic,” said Butale.
“I have in the past wanted to be Chairman. I lost and accepted it. If we cancel elections it will be impossible to convince me that the BDP is different from the Botswana Congress Party,” Butale said.
There was cacophony when Khama told BDP members that Masisi will be Botswana’s next President. Those unhappy with the announcement included former Minister Tebelelo Seretse who told Khama that he was dividing the party.
“You are supposed to be the father to all of us,” Seretse said.
To which Khama replied: “If I am your father then, Masisi is your mother. He is like a wife to me. He helps me take care of you all ÔÇô in government, but also in the party.” Khama said at the Congress he will vote for Masisi and not for anybody else.
Henceforth, speaker after speaker at the BDP Council, including Cabinet ministers, among them Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia started referring to Masisi as their mother ÔÇô a refrain that grew popular over the duration of the Council meeting.