Opinion has been divided over the decision of Ndaba Gaolath and his team to break away from the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to form the Alliance for Progressives with some dismissing the move as a disaster while others acclaimed. As aptly captured by former President Sir Ketumile Masire’s book ‘Too brave or too foolish’ when referring to Bechuanaland’s decision to seek independence only history will judge the consequences of this move. His opponents have been quick to dismiss him as a power hungry cry baby while others have adopted a wait and see approach. Others in opposition ranks are worried that the prospect of the opposition ever assuming state power has been dealt a huge blow. For now, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) fancies its chances of retaining power.
Progressives target to raise P20m
The newly formed political party Alliance for Progressiveness (AP) is said to be on a massive fundraising initiative to prepare for the 2019 general elections. Highly placed sources within the purple party have revealed that it is targeting to raise P20 million before end of this year to help in putting up structures and embarking on a recruitment drive. The party – led by former BMD President Ndaba Gaolathe – is expected to be launched by the end of October this year in a glittering event. The money will also be used for branding and setting up office to ensure that the party is ready for the gruelling 2019 general elections. The elections are expected to be one of the most expensive in the history of Botswana with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) already said to be budgeting P500 million as their campaign budget. The fundraising initiative, which has seen some of the new party’s leaders travelling abroad to seek assistance from some donors, started almost five months ago when a decision was taken to break away from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). AP was conceptualised after Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi and others were expelled from the BMD for among others overseeing the running of the youth congress that the majority of the executive had voted to postpone. After the meeting, BMD National Executive Committee led by its chairman Nehemiah Modubule and Secretary General Gilbert Mangole expelled them, the formation of a new party was Fast-tracked. Though Gaolathe and Mmolotsi stated that they will reclaim the party at the Bobonong congress, those close to the two revealed that they knew that it was not going to be easy to do so, hence an idea of a new party was put forward. While fighting with the Modubule/Mangole faction, the two leaders and their close associates were said to be busy rallying international donors to help them in forming a new party. One of the political parties which were asked for help is the Democratic Alliance of South Africa, which has working relations with BMD, especially during the time of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and the Liberals in United Kingdom. The DA is expected also to help the party in leadership training and fundraising initiatives. Another issue that motivated the formation of a new party was the fall out between Gaolathe and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko. The relationship between the two started to crack early this year due to various issues. Though the two put up some acts in the public, those close to the two said that they didn’t see eye to eye and this was made worse during the unity talks with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) where Gaolathe felt he was hard-done when Dumelang Saleshando was given the position of Vice President. At that time, Gaolathe and Botswana Peoples Party’s President Motlatsi Molapisi joined and publicly showed their displeasure at how the unity talks penned out. BPP is expected to form an alliance with AP and this will be announced during the launch in October this year.AP Secretary General Dr Phenyo Butale said that they are on fundraising mission through membership registration where the first 1000 members have to pop out P1000 as part of fundraising. Butale said they are expecting to open their office next week. He denied that they have approached BMD’s political partners to seek financial assistance.
Councils: New battle grounds
The entrance of a new party is said to be causing sleepless nights in some councils, especially those controlled by the UDC as they fear they might lose them to the ruling party. One of the first causality of the split is said to be Gaborone City Council (GCC) where some AP councillors are already negotiating with BDP councillors to topple mayor Kagiso Thutwe. UDC had 27 councillors before the formation of AP, including those from BCP while BDP had only nine councillors. Most of the councillors from UDC, especially those from BMD, are expected to jump ship thus weakening the UDC numbers. Another council that might see a change of leadership is the South East District Council (SEDC) which is currently led by former BMD Youth League president Phenyo Segokgo. The opposition has 16 councillors while BDP has only eight. Segokgo, who was on Gaolathe’s faction, has not yet come publicly behind the new party.
BNF hit by resignations
Two days after Ndaba Gaolathe announced that they have dumped BMD and formed a new party some members of BNF who were not happy with Duma Boko’s leadership resigned from the party. Some BNF leaders openly supported Gaolathe though Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) took a decision not to interfere on the political mess which had engulfed the BMD. Some of the leaders who publicly supported Gaolathe and attended some of this events include BNF Vice President Reverend Prince Dibeela and party treasurer Noah Salakae. The participation of Dibeela in the Ndaba’s faction led Advocate Sidney Pilane to ask that he recuse himself from the mediation efforts. First to tender his resignation is BNF Youth League spokesperson Nakoentse Katisi. Most members of the BNFYL, especially the leadership led by the President Khumoekae Richard criticised party President Boko on how he handled the BMD issues. BNFYL Secretary General Osenotse Mabote has however dismissed allegations that most of the youth are resigning to join the new party. “Only one person has resigned from the party and we have addressed our members and have vowed to defend the party and its president,” he said. BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa said that as a party they are not aware of any resignation but was quick to add that if there are any, they wish them good luck at their new political home.