Having mastered the art of opposition politics, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) new recruits are sharing deep secrets on how their erstwhile colleagues operate, making them pay dearly in the process. PHILLIMON MMESO singles out three politicians who defected from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) last year.
In the 2014 General Elections, the ruling party tasked the little known Alec Seametso as their national campaign manager – the results were disastrous as the party registered one of its lowest popular votes since independence. Seametso has since taken a backseat with his place taken by some militant youthful politicians. The three, who were recruited from Botswana Congress Party (BCP), have taken to the work of their new political home with monumental appetite.
The former BCPYL President Lotty Manyepetsa, parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta, Dr Ditiro Majadibodu and Thato Osupile who were singlehandedly recruited by BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane are drawing curious attention to their new party, hurting the opposition and making some BDP diehards uncomfortable. There is concern by some, especially among the youth, that the trio has taken the centre stage at the expense of those who have been loyal to the party. Manyepetsa and Majadibodu in particular have won favour with Party chairman, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and are regulars in political tours. Even President Ian Khama is said to be fond of them.
The recent BDP capture of the Sekoma ward from the opposition after 20 years is said to be credited to the spirited campaign of the trio as they literally camped in the ward to ensure BDP’s first victory in a by-election since 2014. At Sekoma they joined another former Botswana National Front (BNF) trusted lieutenant Reggie Reatile who lost to UDC’s Shawn Nthaile during the 2014 General Elections. During the recent monthly BDP media briefings, Ntuane called on them to sit at the top table and praised them for their hardwork. “At BDP when you join us you are accorded all the rights that each member is enjoying hence they are always helping not only during campaigns even at political rallies,” said Ntuane. Commenting on the political trio, Reatile who was the campaign manager at the Sekoma by- elections said they have been in the opposition and know how they operate and can take them head on.
A former parliamentary candidate for BCP in Nata/Gweta constituency for two consecutive general elections, a public speaker of repute, Majadibodu is one of the current leading speakers in the ruling party rallies. He was beaten by Paulson Majaga in the 2014 general elections by 3,424 votes against 2,954. A motivational speaker, Majadibodu is known for his crawling antics during rallies and full of humour which has been missing within the ruling party since the defection of the like of Pono Moatlhodi to UDC. He resigned from the BCP weeks after he lost at the party’s elective congress where he was contesting as publicity secretary which was snatched by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse. Majadibodu, who is tipped to challenge Majaga for the Nata/Gweta constituency, has been one of the regular speakers at BDP rallies.
One of the popular youth politicians who detested BDP and vowed to unseat it from power somersaulted to join it last year is one of the star performers within the ruling party. A resident of Old Naledi, his political activism can be traced to BNF. When the party split in 1998 with the formation of the splinter Botswana Congress Party (BCP), he remained loyal to the party especially its leader the late Dr Kenneth Koma. When Koma left the BNF to form National Democratic Front (NDF) with Dick Bayford, Manyepetsa followed. The NDF, which failed to make any impact in politics, would later be assimilated by BCP together with its members. He once led a march of the BCP youth to the Mass Media Complex which houses state media after their complaint about unbalanced reporting was ignored. In 1995 he was one of the leading leaders during the uprising over the killing of Mochudi student Segametsi Mogomotsi. Never the one to shy away from taking issues head on no matter how controversial they might be, he is one of the BCP members who publicly denounced the Umbrella Talks One which led to BCP pulling out. Since he defected to the ruling party, is one of the influential politicians within the BDP who is always accompanying Vice President Masisi. Sources within the BDP have revealed that since his arrival in the BDP, Manyepetsa’s militancy has overshadowed Seametso. He is expected to lead another campaign for the by-elections for Phillip Matante ward in Francistown South constituency.
Of the three he is the quiet one yet very effective, according to those close to him as he once manned the BCP secretariat. Osupile, who lost a council ward in Phakalane, is not a very good public speaker but is a clever manipulator of politics who is easy to relate to, especially when discussing the issues. He is currently tasked with recruiting from the BCP and is said to be effective as more BCP faithful are joining the ruling party. At the BCP he was regarded as one of the good organisers not only of rallies but workshop for party cadres and the ruling party is said to be using his skills to get into the opposition territories. When BCP 2014 campaign manager Thapelo Ndlovu criticised Manyepetsa, Osupile came to his rescue in a scathing letter. “Lotty Manyapetsa has many layers of political brains than yours Thapelo and attempting to analyse Lotty’s political direction and future is akin to trying to stand tall in a deep dark pit,” he hit out.