Independent Parliamentary candidate for Serowe North, Ramadeluka Seretse was among the influential voices that led to the postponement of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) elective congress a fortnight ago in Kanye. BPF is currently engulfed in a bitter power struggle which political pundits attribute to disagreements over who should lead the party.
Inside sources say so serious is the struggle that some members do not want MP for Tati West and interim president, Biggie Butale to lead the party. Others are suggesting that the party should pursue MP for Serowe West, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to join them and take over the presidency. Seretse says he is not yet a BPF member but intends to join the party after elections. “I have gone a long way, we have already branded ourselves as ‘Abdul’ and the ‘MP Ndelu’ is a brand in Serowe North”. He fears it would cause confusion if he were to convince the electorate to switch from BDP logo to his slogan and then two months before elections introduce yet another thing.
“I chose to be independent because I have my own motions that I could table and get sympathy from other MPs instead of where they can be quashed at party caucus level”. Seretse denies wanting the BPF presidency because the circumstances are such that its Patron Dr Ian Khama is largely the driver behind the BPF. “If anyone of us related to him comes in, it will be perceived that Khama wants to return to power using relatives even though he left constitutionally. “So, I will not want to attract attention to my family, and be seen as somebody who is being used. It is not that I am not capable,” Seretse says, adding that he has the capability to lead any organisation even a political party.
But his view is that the BPF is seen largely as Khama’s party and to be seen in the leadership structures would just be to condemn it to most of the commentators and doubtful minds. “So the best is to stay away and help them where it is required once I am a member”. Seretse confirms that he stood up during the inaugural congress in Kanye and pointed out that BPF should not go for an elective congress because “it is going to split us.” “Most of us are still BDP at heart and in values; I know pretty well that we are going to split because of the powers struggles. I told them that I can smell factions; I can see them at play,” Seretse says.
Though not part of the interim committee, he has always been bold to offer advise when the situation demands it. “I told them that in this committee, there are people that actually went to register the party, and in my knowledge there must have been subscribers and the subscribers are the lawful committee to do anything under the constitution. If they have to form membership, they are the ones who should go out there to get members so that they could go to a congress.” Seretse says contrary to what has been said by the interim president Butale, it is not true that some people threatened to sue the party.
As for his personal preference for BPF president, Seretse lists these attributes: charisma, personality, ability to lead or be seen as a leader. “It must be someone that will be able to attract you first before other people. I am not saying the current one does not have that,” he said, adding that it is natural to desire leaders that are calm, collected and not angry, people that are focused on what it is they want to achieve. “We cannot just think of removing Masisi but rather what is beyond him. We need leadership that has short, medium and long-term vision.” In his view Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who could not contest elections at BDP, has a wealth of knowledge, experience and charisma.
“Granted, age might not be on her side but she has a lot of expertise therefore we can use her to build and lead BPF in the formative stages to make it strong”. Seretse hopes that when BPF meets in Palapye in two weeks’ time, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will be a candidate for presidency. “I hope the committee, those men and women that matter, would have seen how impactful she would be. “There will be consensus that we should have only one list that we go with to avoid divisions. Whoever stands and wins is fine, but they must not cause factionalism, it is unfortunate that it is part and parcel of our politics, but you would hope that they would understand”.
Seretse rubbished claims that Khama has issued an ultimatum to independent candidates to join his party. Instead he says that Khama is sympathetic to independent candidates who took the first step without knowing where they are going to land. “Only Nehemiah Modubule has won as an independent candidate in our history. Khama is saying, let us not antagonise them, we must work with them support them so that when they win they come to us. But, of course there is an element of trust, are they really going to come? As an independent my call is going to come from the people.” Seretse believes that his chances are good as constituents have pledged support for Khama.