After their dismissal performance at the 2014 General Elections, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is in mean mood to win the 2019 general elections with a convincing popular vote.
Chairman of the International Relations and Communications Shaw Kgathi said that one of the issues that cost them the elections was their electoral system commonly known as Bulela Ditswe and it is under review.
Kgathi acknowledged that the party has the highest number of independent candidates in the 2014 general elections and this has cost them dearly. “But we should not attribute bulela ditswe as the cause of our poor performance because that will be a myopic analysis but rather look at a broader picture and this is what we are doing currently,” said Kgathi.
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.
During the National Council which was held in Gaborone last weekend, delegates agreed that they should continue with the system but it needs to be reviewed.
Addressing members of the media on Sunday after the council, Siele said delegates rejected the proposal for the re-introduction of the Electoral College as they felt it was undemocratic.
“We have been tasked to go and refine our recommendations taking into considerations what delegates have proposed and present our final draft at the elective congress in Mmadinare in July,” said Siele who also lost in the bulela Ditswe elections to Dr Alfred Madigele.
When giving welcoming remarks at the council last week Friday, Party Chairman Ponatshego Kedikilwe said that the party received more complaints regarding the primary elections than ever before.
During the discussions on the primary elections review, most party members registered their displeasure at the way the party addressed the protests especially the Tlokweng issue in which Elijah Katse was removed giving way for the incumbent Olebile Gaborone.
BDP lost Tlokweng constituency to Bame Bathobakae with a huge margin 6 442 while Gaborone got 3867 votes. Delegates are said to have told President Ian Khama to listen to the views of the members not only of those in the executive as this is one of the reasons the party performed badly.
Resuscitation of party structures
After the primary elections, the party structures are said to have collapsed something that was admitted by the party President Khama.
“If there are no structures Madomi then there is no party. It is as plain and simple as that,” said Khama.
Most democrats attribute the collapse of the structures to the disgruntlement within the party, and have vowed to resuscitate them with Khama promising to visit all the regions after the congress in July.
He cautioned that should they found regional leaders not performing their duties they will remove them from office.
BDP which registered 47% popular vote in 2014 general elections resolved to start political education, seminars and workshops will be revisited.
Review of conditions of service for public service workers
Ahead of the general elections, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) joined forces with the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change to help them in their campaigns and this is said to have really shaken the BDP.
During the congress delegates pleaded with President Khama to reconsider his relationship with public service workers. They believed that if it is not done the party might lose the 2019 general elections as the rocky relationship is causing more harm to the party than the workers as evidenced by the results of 2014 general elections.
The National Council resolved that government should as a matter of urgency to review conditions of service for public servants.
BDP communications chairman Kgathi defended government for not increasing the salary of public servants during the press briefing saying the country was facing a big financial challenge.
“We had to choose between increasing the salary of public service workers and continuing with developments and helping ordinary Batswana and we chose the latter which really cost us at the general elections,” said Kgathi who is also the Minister of Defence and Justice and Security.
According to Kgathi the wage bill gobbled P17 billion of the P43 billion recurrent budget and again government was faced with water and electricity challenges.
“The opposition capitalized on that in the 2014 general elections and right now we are going to put the house in order,” said Kgathi.
Mochudi West council bye election to test the party unity
To test their readiness for 2019 and unity within the party, BDP will test their strength in the coming council bye elections in Bokone ward in Mochudi West.
The party recently lost all the council bye elections held in Moshupa, Goodhope and Ngware which was the first time in the BDP’s political history.
The bye election in Mochudi West comes after Umbrella for Democratic Change councilor Titus Kebuileng resigned to concentrate on his job at University of Botswana.
BDP will be represented by Lesego Matlapeng who lost in the last elections.
Currently the party is involved in house to house campaigns to bolster their chances.
The party is expecting to benefit from the reconciliation of government and Bakgatla Paramount Chief Kgosi Kgafela II.
BDP to sharpen their strategies ahead of 2019
Giving his financial report to the council, BDP treasure admitted that one of the challenges they faced was that they were pitted against their foot soldiers who knew their strategies in and out.
According to Dada it was difficult to counter their political nemesis mostly BDP who left the party to form Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) who knew their campaigning tactics.
This according to BDP’s longest serving treasure led to the party spending more money on campaigns to counter their former members turned political enemies.
The BDP National Council resolved to sharpen their strategies and programmes ahead of 2019.
During the press briefing, BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said that the current programmes that the government is running are not ‘Mananeo a ga Rraetsho’ as some call them.
“Even the president has advised that these are not his programmes but that of the party,” said Balopi.
Elective congress for Mmadinare in July
BDP will be going to their elective congress in Mmadinare this year in which for the first time relatives will be facing each other for the post of chairpersonship. That is Tshekedi Khama facing his first cousin Ramadeluka Seretse and their sister in law Tebelelo Seretse.
They will face another two candidates Member of Parliament for Tati West Biggie Butale and former BDP youth league Chairman Dithapelo Tshotlego.
During the national council some members of the BDP are said to have asked Tshekedi Khama to step down from the race. According to sources he was willing to step aside but this week, TK as the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism is commonly responded via short messages (SMS) noting that,
“If there is a change it will come from. Thanks TK.”