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Botswana Congress Party (BCP) MPs have piled pressure on the party central committee, blocking a secret plan to expel MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt.
Information reaching this publication indicates that the BCP National Executive Committee (NEC) was this week forced to withdraw its intention to suspend Keorapetse, a step that would have been the first towards expelling him. It is alleged that BCP NEC had instructed its Secretary General (SG), Goretetse Kekgonegile to suspend Keorapetse from the party but the central committee resolution was met with resistance from MPs.
Kekgonegile and BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando were recently suspended by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership for a period of three (3) months, a move which observers said could push the BCP to dump the coalition.
According to impeccable sources, some of the fed up BCP MPs have complained about ill-treatment of Keorapetse after he was kicked out of a confidential meeting last week. A rift is said to be developing between BCP central committee and the party MPs owing to a continuous onslaught on Keorapetse, who has now turned the party’s number one enemy.
“There has been a proposal by some within the central committee to purge Keorapetse from the party to be followed by other MPs who are believed to be dissenting alongside him. Some BCP MPs stood firmly to oppose the ill-treatment directed at him,” a source said.
The relationship between BCP leadership and Keorapetse is said to have reached rock bottom after the maverick Selibe Phikwe West MP was removed from all official communication platforms such as WhatsApp Groups. Over night Keorapetse has become the most unwanted man in the party, with suggestions that he is even targeted at BCP primary elections next year.
“UDC councillors under BCP in Selebi Phikwe West have been urged to isolate Keorapetse, and rather work independently since their MP has aligned himself more to UDC instead of advancing BCP interests,” an impeccable source confided.
Keorapetse, together with two MPs for Mahalapye West and Nkange, David Tshere and Dr Never Tshabang respectively, are viewed as being too close to the UDC. During the closed session BCP meeting, which Keorapetse was locked out of, it is said the MPs expressed discontent towards how the party leadership is handling UDC matters.
As a result, MPs are said to have cautioned that the BCP leadership attitude will cost them political careers, therefore they oppose any plans to exit the opposition coalition.
With the UDC set to appoint a new Leader of Opposition (LOO) when Parliament resumes from Monday, it is alleged that BCP has warned its MPs against accepting such nomination failing which they will be suspended.
Contacted for comment on Friday, BCP Secretary General (SG) Goretetse Kekgonegile declined to comment on allegations that the party was forced to backtrack on the decision to suspend Keorapetse. “Comrade please bear with me. Let us concentrate on building democracy. These are individual questions based on hearsay and probably sponsored. I don’t participate in this agenda. I concentrate on accounting on for organization decisions. Ask me about the organizational decisions I will account,” said Kekgonegile when asked about plot to purge Keorapetse and the issue of a new LOO.
Keorapetse had not responded to enquiries sent to his WhatsApp mobile number at the time of going to print yet he had read the messages.
Independent political commentator Frank Mogotsi said the relationship between Keorapetse and the BCP leadership has turned sour due to his alliance to the opposition coalition, UDC. He said Keorapetse is a principled politician who knows well where his bread is buttered.
“He is one of the star politicians we have locally. Obviously the BCP wouldn’t like to see any of its MPs being loyal to the UDC while the BCP is pulling in a different direction. BCP will declare war on him feeling that he is not loyal to the party. But Keorapetse can succeed in politics even outside the BCP,” said Mogotsi.