Preparations for the 2019 general elections took centre stage at the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) special congress on Friday in Mogoditshane where all the party regions convened to present and make contributions to the party’s road to 2019 strategy. It would seem Domkrag is not taking any chances after recording a dismal performance in the 2014 general elections, where they registered 47% popular vote. Vetting guidelines for prospective candidates in the up-coming 2019 general elections, primary elections and registration deadlines was, according to BDP insiders, at the core of the extra special congress which was held under the theme ‘Our Structures, Our Strength – another 50 years in government #GOYAGOILENG’.
Matters surrounding primary elections are being relooked at after the party’s electoral system commonly known as Bulela Ditswe was reviewed following party resolution in April last year. The party appointed former cabinet minister Peter Siele to head a commission of 12 members from the 12 regions to review the system. Bulela Ditswe results saw most candidates petitioning them while others opted to contest as independent candidates, a development which the ruling party agrees might have contributed to its poor performance. The party, it is said, intends to speed up all pending issues in order to be well prepared and ready to present its candidates for the 2019 general elections to electorates and campaign for them thereafter.
The party took a resolution to have Special Congresses during the party’s elective congress in Mmadinare early last year. The special congresses, according to the party leadership, are meant discuss pending issues that were not dealt with at the Mmadinare congress. Meanwhile the extra special congress come at a time when the BDP despite staging a massive campaign in the Kelemogile ward by-elections in Ramotswa recently lost it to the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP). This adds another loss to opposition by the BDP, which is said to have caused panic among members of the party and planted doubts about its strength to retain power in 2019.
At the opening of the special congress President Ian Khama took the opportunity to introduce to other party members, the recently defected MP for Okavango Bagalatia Arone as their latest ‘big catch’ from the opposition. He said Arone had made the right move to defect to the ruling party from the BCP. Arone’s defection, according to some observers, might be an indication that the plan by BDP to frustrate opposition cooperation by going on a recruitment drive to cripple the BCP might be starting to take shape.