Maverick Palapye MP Onneetse Ramogapi says he is unmoved by the growing defections by members of the Umbrella Democratic Change (UDC), who are planning to overthrow him as the area legislator.
The Patriot on Sunday has established that all is not well inside the UDC in Palapye as the party continues to lose members and Councillors who are joining the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in droves.
At the core of the growing instability within the opposition coalition is that the councillors are said to have no confidence in Ramogapi and are plotting his downfall by leaving him alone in the party. Highly placed sources in UDC said Ramogapi has been at loggerheads with UDC structures in the constituency, who are accusing the MP of not consulting them as well as dumping councillors.
In interview on Friday, the outspoken Ramogapi said he is aware of the coup plot against him mooted by some within the UDC by working hand in hand with those who defected to the BDP. He said some of the councillors who dumped UDC did so in their own but he did not push them. “I am not worried about some of our members who connive in the dark and recruits the new members for BDP. Yes BDP is a robust recruitment drive in Palapye same with us. Even if some of our own plan to dismantle UDC inside they cannot unseat me at all. We are steady,” he said, taking a swipe at his comrades who defect to join BDP calling them political prostitutes.
BDP Spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said they have employed a robust strategic campaign to recruit members from all opposition in the central district noting that it has begun in Palapye. The confident Kentse said BDP is on the drive to collapse UDC in the constituency as this has been evidenced by the defection of its councillors to join BDP cautioning BDP will harm UDC.
“We are rigorously recruiting members in Palapye and our strategy is working well so far. Our aim is not central district but we will roll the strategy in other constituencies we have lost in 2019 general elections. Central is our stronghold and we will it back in 2024,”said elated Kentse.
He said some BDP members who joined the opposition prior to 2019 elections majority of them lost the primary elections noting that BDP is now working on to avoid losing member post the primaries. “The primary elections have been problematic because lot of conflicts arise every time. Some of our members who defected did that out frustration and we happy they are back now,” he said.
UDC lost a number of councillors joining BDP key amongst them BCP veteran Jordan Makhura. Despite the political storm that brews in UDC, Ramogapi says he will win back the constituency in 2024 cautioning his detractors that plans to oust him that BDP will never ever win in central. He believes that the opposition will be stronger in central more than it was in 2019 elections.
“We have done our assignment well as opposition and that made BDP irrelevant. The defection of our members to join BDP in Palapye should deceive them that they will defeat UDC,” he said.
Ramogapi. who has been linked to the BDP splinter party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) denied the allegations, saying he remains loyal to the UDC and adding that there is no way BDP can recruit him despite its invasion in Palapye.
Political analyst Leornard Sesa says the political storm that is brewing in the UDC could hurt MP. Sesa opined that the fallout between MP and his councillors normal lead to deep divisions on the party as the councillors are the ones who do lot of ground work on behalf of the legislators.
“UDC leadership should be concerned and address the issues before it gets out of control. For it to be in tension in critical central constituency like Palapye is very worrisome,” Sesa cautioned.
Regarding the MP’s performance in parliament, Sesa noted that Ramogapi is vocal on the floor but the problem is that he articulates issues with majority of other new MPs with no research. He said the MPs are under pressure to show the voters at home who now watch live session on national television therefore MPs just taking the podium for the sake of talking exposing them.
“Ramogapi in terms of being vocal and consistent on debates is very impressive. He has been a concillor so one would expect him to debate issues on parliament on improved way,” he added.