Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone's alleged defection to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has shocked opposition councillors and activists in his constituency, after the legislator launched a massive campaign to recruit them to join the ruling party. The councillor for Nxamasere/Samochima ward Gaopalelwe Ronald revealed that Arone has been calling him endlessly recruiting him to join the BDP with him. Ronald said that the campaign Manager for Arone in 2014 called him over the weekend to meet him and Arone in one of the lodges in Shakawe. “I met with him and he told me that he is leaving the BCP and joining the BDP.” Councillor Ronald said Arone told him two reasons for him to leaving the opposition. “He told me that the Okavango constituency has been under the opposition for a long time and there has been no development coming to the area and joining the BDP will bring development to the area,” he said, adding that another reason is looking at his future beyond politics and he is making investment for his children.
Ronald also disclosed that Arone promised him that if they follow him to the BDP there is a package for them. “Arone told me that he has been funded to develop one of his guest houses in Shakawe,” he added. The councillor said he told Arone that he won’t betray his marginalised community and sell his soul to the BDP for personal gain. “I told the MP that I am not joining the BDP and he threatened me that if I stay in the BCP I will lose elections in 2019. I told him that even if I lose election I will not join BDP and I won’t,” Ronald emphasized. Ronald also said Arone has long neglected the party activities in 2014 and with claims that he was promised an Ambassador position if he leave the BCP. He also revealed that the Vice President Mokweetsi Masisi has been making endless calls to Arone‘s campaign manager as they desperately want to Arone to join the BDP. Ronald, however, indicated that pressure is mounting on Arone as he is busy recruiting some members to BDP as he does not want to join it alone as an MP.
Another councillor for Sepopa/Ikoga Botshelo Mapa also confirmed that Arone called him personally to inform him that he is leaving BCP and joining the ruling party. “I told him that BDP is my totem. I won’t join that party.” Mapa said they have been shocked by Arone defection to the BDP. “It is a big blow to our constituency for someone of Arone’s calibre to defect to BDP. Arone has betrayed our forefather of politics the late Kavindama and Mpho Motsamai,” he said, adding that Arone was inspired by Joseph Kavindama and his decision to leave the opposition is the greatest betrayal to the founding leaders. Mapa said Arone’s defection to the BDP was a political suicide. Matsaudi Matsaudi a councillor for Shakawe/Mohembo West said the MP called him on Sunday when he was on his way to attend the NWDC full council in Maun.
Matsaudi said he thought Arone was calling him enquiring on the preparation for the upcoming BCP congress that will be held in Shakawe in July. “When I arrived in Maun I was shocked to hear that the MP has defected to BDP ahead of the party congress that will be held in his constituency,” Matsaudi said. Matsaudi revealed that the MP has been busy recruiting some of the councillors to join him to BDP but his efforts are failing. However, unconfirmed reports suggest that the BDP has taken the advantage of Arone’s financial situation and promised him a package of P4 million. Reports also indicate that Arone is busy refurbishing one of the guest house in Shakawe called Hawk Guest house.
Efforts to reach Arone were futile as he did not answer calls to his mobile phone or respond to messages left for him. However, the BCP North West Regional Chairman Goretetse Kekgonegile said Arone has not formally informed their office about his decision but they have received reports from their members that he has been busy recruiting them to join the BDP. He further indicated that the ward and cell committee members are busy informing the elders and party members in the Okavango constituency about the situation. "At the moment we are busy informing our members to stay away from Arone as he has been suspended since he is a lost soul who want to destroy the party. The BCP does not have a member of parliament at Okavango constituency and we are busy identifying some party members to replace Arone," he said, adding that the regional branch will soon visit the constituency to inform the members about Arone's defection.
He also observed that for the past two years Arone has been absent from party activities and that alone tells a lot about him. Kekgonegile also added that the national executive will also visit the Okavango constituency where the party will be hosting its national congress in Shakawe in July. "Everything is in order and we are busy preparing for the national congress that will be in Shakawe. Our members are busy preparing for the congress, BCP is alive and we still have a lot of members who can represent the party," he said.