Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament have called for calm and a clean campaign ahead of the party’s Special Congress in Kang next week Friday. The MPs raised the concerns last week during the party’s Parliamentary Caucus meetings.
President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi will become the first BDP leader to be challenged for the presidency of the party at this Special Congress.
He will defend his seat against a former member of his cabinet, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. Campaigns for the presidency have been marred by controversy. There have been accusations and counter-accusations of use of underhand tactics to lure voters.
Dr. Masisi’s camp has been accused of using both state and party resources to advance their campaign while Dr. Venson-Moitoi’s team is accused of mudslinging, ignoring party processes and procedures and attacking the president.
Some key members are known to be supporting Dr. Venson-Moitoi among them Central Committee member and MP for Tati East Samson Guma Moyo, who has since fled the country on claims that he is a target of an assassination plot. During the caucus meeting MPs expressed concern over the dirty campaigns that both camps have engaged in. According to sources who attended both last week and this week’s Tuesday meetings, the MPs want a peaceful Kang congress that would also unite the party.
“We want both teams to be humble as they get to the final lap of campaign. Things have not been going well and this has divided us even more. So, we believe we have to air our concerns as MPs because we are the ones more senior when it comes to delegates. We want to come back from Kang a united force,” said one MP.
Another MP stated that “the issue here is not about who is powerful than who, but it is about the democratic dispensation within the party which we have for years preached (that) we stand for. This is the time to lead by example that indeed we are a democratic organisation.”
The MPs pointed out that it is not wrong for Vice President and BDP Chairman Slumber Tsogwane to support Dr. Masisi as it has always been the party tradition that the president and his second in command stick to each other even during central committee elections.
Government Whip (BDP) Liakat Kablay confirmed that the MPs have called for calm as the campaigns get into the last lap before the congress. Kablay said the MPs spoke with one voice as concerned leaders within the party. He stated that they have put to rest the issue of Tsogwane supporting the president as party chairman and former president Dr. Ian Khama supporting Dr. Venson-Moitoi. According to Kablay they have concluded that this is nothing new and should not be used by either camp to attack the other.
“This is why you will hear people saying BDP MPs would resign. I can assure you that no MP would dump the BDP after the Kang congress and we are not going to split. “Of course, we have our differences for now but that is not happening for the first time and BDP is not going for internal elections for the first time.
“We have been on this road before even during our National Congresses where presidents endorsed their deputies there were tensions. Even during the Festus Mogae era and Dr. Khama’s times,” said Kablay adding that they have urged both camps to accept the results and work together towards building a strong BDP ahead of this year’s general elections.
Kablay who is also MP for Letlhakeng-Lephephe rubbished claims that BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato was behind the postponement of the Women’s Wing congress. He revealed that it was the Parliamentary Caucus that pursued her to postpone because of logistical issues such as accommodation.