Last year, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) launched a recruitment drive and registration of new party members. With the party Patron Former President Ian Khama at the forefront, the party traversed the length and breadth of the country wooing and receiving new members to its fold. The intensive recruitment beared fruit as a week hardly went by without the party receiving new members at the expense of ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
And when speaking at one of the events to welcome former member of parliament for Palapye, Moiseraela Master Goya who resigned from BDP together with thousands of other members, a couple of months back, BPF Patron and his entourage vowed to dismantle the ruling party, and removing the current Government and it’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi. “I made a mistake by appointing Masisi to be your President, for that I apologise, but we are now rectifying that mistake, together with other opposition parties the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) we will fix this mistake,” Khama said then.
BPF Patron also said at the same event that, members of the BDP that include MPs, Former MPs, Councillors, former councillors are leaving the party because it has failed Batswana. “More people are leaving CAVA for BPF, I was in Lerala- Maunatlala constituency where I received 2367 members who left BDP from Moremi, Maunatlala, Lerala and Ratholo villages and 365 more from BMD,” he further said.
Though recently the aggressive recruitment momentum looks to have waned, however, when responding to questionnaire recently, Botswana Patriot Front Information and publicity Secretary Lawrence Ookeditse said, while Covid-19 restrictions had slowed them a bit, but they continue to receive members in very good numbers. “We have had to change our strategy, but we are still doing quite well, so I can say I am relatively satisfied with progress this far,” he said.
Ookeditse said their strategy is to become a safe haven for all people from all walks of life. “We are getting good numbers from the BDP and we shall continue to, we are also getting people who used to be non-aligned to political parties and we want more and more of these swing votes to join us,” he said.
With people continually playing down the party’s ability to penetrate other parts of the country expect for the northern part, the BPF mouthpiece indicated that a party always starts among a certain group of people and therefore they are not worried by that. “We are stronger in the North but our popularity in the south grows by the day. By the time we go to the 2024 general election you will witness this growth. Sometimes it scares even me how well received we are by people all over the country,” he said.
He indicated that while they currently going about recruiting members, they are also working with opposition parties to reach an agreement on cooperation. “We are desirous of cooperating with other opposition parties, In actual fact, we are going to work with all willing opposition parties. Our goal is to free our people by removing BDP from power. We can only do this when working together towards achieving the same goals,” he said.
While there are still some of the opposition members who are still adamant in welcoming the new party to the opposition politics, given the tumultuous relationship the BPF Patron Former President has had with the opposition parties during his presidency. And the fact that the party is made of mostly disgruntled members of the ruling party and therefore there is a believe that the party and BDP are birds of the same feather, however, Ookeditse who also recently dumped the BDP defended the Patron and the party indicating that he is a good and a democrat at heart.
“The people who may think he is domineering and would want to rule from the grave clearly have not gotten to know the man. He is one of the easiest people to deal with if you have the interests of Batswana at heart,”
“And I can say it for the record that he is not looking to get back into power. At the same time, he can not just sit back and look while the country burns. He is helping us put out the fire that is rummaging through our country,” he added.
He also noted that those in the opposition who had interacted with BPF patron have warmed up to him as they have by now seen for themselves that they are dealing with a principled man. “Unlike the one we have in power now, the patron is a man of his word,” said Ookeditse.
Furthermore, Ookeditse indicated that Batswana are looking for something different and therefore the BPF share with them their vision for a fairer, more just and free country.” The carnage, upheaval and total incompetence of the regime in power does the bulk of the work for us. One needs not tell people of the uncertainty of being in this country today. You literally could wake up and find the country sold or something. It is that bad,” he said. “Batswana are therefore looking for alternatives. And we share with them our vision for a fairer, more just and free country. They are buying into a vision our vision of change towards stability and fairness,” he added.
So far Botswana Patriotic Front had welcomed to its fold around 10 sitting councillors and former councillors , 1 member of parliament and former MPs, and they are mostly from the BDP.
He said they are not yet able to do major events because of Covid-19 , but he noted that they are looking at a possible congress in July.