• 'defections caused by indebtedness'
• 'Maybe EVM case is not priority to UDC partners'
• Central committe to discuss constituency swap today
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership is divided on the many lawsuits that the party has launched against Government, among them challenging the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as they feel they are a waste of resources and time.
A section of the party leadership feel that instead of engaging in legal battles with Government, the party must focus on rebuilding their structures which are said to be collapsing. BCP recently withdrew a case in which they were challenging the legitimacy of President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the fifth president of the country. Although party faithful throng the high court when they litigate, at the withdrawal of the case only party leader Dumelang Saleshando was present while the party lawyer Martin Dingake was nowhere to be seen.
BCP currently has an ongoing EVM case at the Francistown High Court, and together with their coalition partners under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) have served the Attorney General (AG) with a statutory notice to sue former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director Isaac Kgosi, Director of Ministry of Minerals, Green technology and Energy Security Kenneth Kerekang and Permanent Secretary of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Dr Obolokile Obakeng.
In an interview BCP President Dumelang Saleshando admitted that the court cases will hit hard on their pockets but they find it necessary to pursue them. Asked if other umbrella partners are helping on the EVM case, Saleshando said that they have reached out to them but have not yet come on board. “Maybe it is not a priority to them and as such we cannot impose our priorities on them,” he said.
Some BCP members accuse Saleshando of ideological bankruptcy suggesting that he has sold his political soul to the UDC in exchange for Maun West for a constituency at the expense of the party. BCP has traded their Francistown West constituency with Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in exchange of Maun West which has been given to Saleshando. This is said to have infuriated some BCP members in Francistown who feel that they were never consulted by the party leadership about the deal.
One of the affected members is the former MP for Francistown West Vain Mamela who was aiming to try his luck for the fifth time in the constituency in the coming 2019 General Elections but his dream is now up in smoke as BMD has even given the constituency to Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). Currently the party is only left with Francistown East in the country’s second city while in Gaborone they don’t have any constituency.
Commenting on the issue, Saleshando said it is an internal issue and it will be discussed at the Central Committee meeting today (Sunday).
Since 2014 BCP has become a fertile hunting ground for the ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The latest catch was their Secretary General Kentse Rammidi who was recently welcome into the BDP by Masisi.
The party also lost two sitting councillors to BDP being Mr Elijah Motsamai of Mmadikola-Xhumo Ward in Boteti and Mr Mahommed Sobhan of Government Ward in Gaborone Central and are expected to lose another sitting councillor in Gaborone South constituency. While BCP is crying foul saying money has been exchanging hands as the ruling party continues to “bribe” their senior party officials to jump ship, political pundits say that mass defections are a symptom of ideological infractions.
Some of those who defect from the party cite the lack of participatory internal democracy as a result of communication deficit between party leaders, followers and the population, lack of resources and the dominance of a personality cult as their reason for jumping ship.
On the defections, Saleshando said Rammidi didn’t resign because of internal party matters but informed them that it is purely personal. “Most of the councillors who have defected have failed to pay their monthly subscriptions and were vetted out hence they jumped ship,” he said, adding that he is alive that more are still going to defect due to indebtedness.
Asked if there is no how they can help the indebtedness leaders to avert defections which cause instability within the party, Saleshando said they cannot compromise discipline within the party. “It is a necessary instability in order to bring order within the party. If we condone those who owe the party, we will be setting a wrong precedent which might lead to others not paying their monthly subscriptions,” he reasoned.
Saleshando blamed the BDP led government for the financial strain that opposition leaders find themselves in due to the mismanagement of the economy. “People are now rushing for the BDP membership card to avoid indebtedness which has been caused by the same party by mismanaging the economy,” he said.