The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has seen its popular vote taking a nose dive in the 2014 General Elections, has upped their political game and started the campaign for the 2019 general elections. Highly placed sources within the party have revealed that Party Chairman Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi will kick-start the campaign in matters of days. Immediately after being elected the party chairman in Tonota, he revealed that his focus will be to wrestle opposition held constituencies and campaign for the 2019 elections. Currently the party is said to be drafting the budget for the campaign which is expected to start next month. “We expect to use more than half a billion Pula for the campaign as we are not leaving anything to chance,” said an inside source. To show their seriousness the party is expected to unveil their 2019 campaign vehicles before the end of the year. The party is said to be adopting the strategy that was used at the 2015 and 2017 elective congress where they will pitch camps and have paid foot soldiers. They recently used tents at the exuberantly arranged “Dubai Camp” in Tonota are said to belong to Masisi and will be used in the campaign. “We are going to have dedicated campaign teams that will camp in various constituencies starting with the opposition held ones to do house to house campaigns,” said the source.
While the BDP clearly has some strong electoral advantages, there are growing indications that its long-term grip on power is continuing to dissipate. Masisi is said to have informed his close associates that there is no time to rest and must correct the political missteps that they have committed previously. The coming on board of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) into the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has generated political fissures inside the ruling party and given an added boost to a more unified opposition. “Our appeal is starting to fade, and the party may be in for a bruising battle to retain national power. The BDP is in trouble for a variety of reasons some of which are of our own making,” revealed a highly placed BDP member. One area which the party has identified is that it has been losing appeal among the country’s increasingly youthful voters. At their elective congress, only one resolution was passed which is to ask government to back date the 3% salary increment to public service workers. This is said to be another way by the party to try and soften their relationship with public service workers which has been on rocky grounds. The recent political turmoil within Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which might derail UDC campaigns is said not to bother Masisi who is determined to win power in 2019.
The Asian factor
Ahead of the Tonota congress Masisi was alleged to have been sponsored by some members of the Asian community and are ready to fund his 2019 campaign. In an interview after he triumphed over Nonofho Molefhi for the party chairmanship, Masisi confirmed that he has received financial support from various business people both locally and internationally even from the Asian community. Sources close to ‘Team Sisiboy’ have revealed that over P10 million was raised for his chairmanship campaign and the account is expected to swell ahead of the 2019 elections. BDP Communications Chairman Thapelo Pabalinga confirmed that they have already started their 2019 campaign. “We went into the campaign mode after the 2014 general elections, hence we are going to hold primary elections in all opposition held constituencies this year,” he said. On the arrival of their branded vehicles and campaign materials, Pabalinga said that he cannot confirm that as he had to check first with the party secretariat.