The contest between Vain Mamela and Lotty Manyepedza for the position of Organisaing Secretary at Botswana Congress Party has allegedly torn the party right down the middle.
Inside sources say the party is divided into the north and south axis, with most of the northern region rallying behind Mamela, the former Francistown South MP and the southern part backing Manyepedza, the former BCP youth league president. This explains BCP’s reluctance to hold an elective congress fearing that a duel between the party’s firebrands has a potential to polarise the party ahead of the 2014 national elections. Manyepedza has expressed interest in challenging Mamela, a founding father and very infuential member of the BCP, for the position. It was Mamela, Manyepedza and Phagenyana Phage, who during the ill-fated talks of opposition unity with BNF and BMD, outrightly dismissed the umbrella idea.
Mamela likened the BMD to a creature with an insatiable appetite called Thokolosi [Zombie], saying it would eventually “eat” the BCP. “We cannot work with the BMD and I wish to tell you that the Umbrella is dead and buried,” charged Mamela last year in a rally in Francistown. At the same rally, Manyepedza who was then the BCPYL president dismissed the umbrella as a wasteful project and urged BCP not to go ahead with elections. Manyepedza, like Mamela, wrote the umbrella obituary while their leaders were still in talks. The party would later heed their call and dumped the umbrella talks.
“These are party kingmakers and facing each other in a party election is scary and might destabilise the party ahead of general elections,’’ said one councillor, who also likened the duo to Goliath against Goliath. “I can tell you even the party leadership is worried,” he said about prospects of a contest between the two. Insiders said some party elders tried to talk Manyepedza out of the race but he declined saying he is going to exercise his democratic right. Manyepedza confirmed that he is going to challenge Mamela at the Phikwe congress.
“I have even informed Mamela that I am going to challenge him and I guess he is okay with that.’’ He said one of his aims is to resuscitate party structures around the country. “We need to make the party visible in all the constituencies around the country which is not the case right now.’’ The former BCPYL president said that he has canvassed support around the country and is sure of victory. Mamela on the other hand said that he is ready for the challenge “democracy calls for a contest.’’
According to the Secretary General of BCP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang the elective congress which will be held at Makhubu JSS would start with the women’s conference on Saturday afternoon. The congress will be officially opened on Sunday morning by party leader Dumelang Saleshando. The party is expected to go to elections on Monday.