Cracks continue to widen in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with a new powerful faction dubbed Crocodiles emerging behind the scenes, backed by former ministers and MPs.
The main target for the faction is to lobby support for incumbent BDP backbenchers contesting Central Committee positions ahead of the party congress, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt. Information gathered by this publications is that the new faction labelled Team Crocodiles intends to position itself for the BDP central committee positions at the upcoming BDP’s congress in July.
Sources close to developments hinted that the faction is made up of former ministers and MPs, with some of them having held positions in the BDP National Executive Committee (NEC). The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed that the members of Crocodiles camp met recently at Rasesa to map up a way forward with regards to recruiting members, targeting those who are unhappy.
Sources intimate that the faction comprises of BDP veterans from both the south and north regions. “The disgruntled members of the new faction have been infuriated more when some were not appointed to the Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) by President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Majority are the former MPs who felt neglected after losing the BDP primary elections in 2018. Faction intends to reach out to the party elders who are also disgruntled,” said a source.
Recently when appointing the new PEEC, Masisi retained Alec Seametso of Kanye North as Chairman. Molepolole South MP Kabo Morwaeng was re-appointed as the Secretary of elections committee.
Allegations are that those appointed to the BDP committees are Masisi’s preferred candidates for BDP in 2024. Morwaeng is said to be the preferred candidate to challenge Balopi for party Secretary General post.
It is alleged that the members behind the new faction are also unhappy that some of the BDP members who are targeting the BDP primaries are already getting endorsement from the leadership.
The BDP will be going for the primary elections next year which observers say they will be a make or break up for the ruling party which already rattled by divisions as congress approach.
Media has been awash with the reports of fallout between Masisi and BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi, who have since resigned from the cabinet to allow himself to be activity on ground.
The maverick Balopi has been at the forefront canvassing votes for the BDP at the recently held by-election at Ledumadumane ward in Mogoditshane, a move which unsettled his potential challengers.
BDP however suffered yet another defeat losing the ward it won in 2019 general elections to the formidable opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) led by Duma Boko.
UDC candidate Simon Moipolai garnered 371 votes against 281 for Thato Kgwatalala of the BDP.
From all the council by-elections held in 12 wards so far, BDP only managed to win three council seats.
BDP split looms
Independent political commentator Kitso Morekisi said BDP is in a fragile state and may split. He said the party normally develops factions especially around the time for congress. According to him, there is a room for potential factions aligning themselves to centers of power.
“When the BDP split in 2010, there was a lot of disgruntlement from the party veteran MPs who were the masterminds of BMD formation. Currently, there is lot of clear battle for power and every BDP member wants to be recognized by being appointed to the committees by the president. Masisi had to be cautious and deal with any danger than can divide the party,” he added.
Furthermore, he said prior to the 2019 general elections, a strong faction of New Jerusalem also emerged in the BDP and later on the party had a new splinter party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
Morekisi also said the party’s primary elections billed for next year will be critical for party unity. It has been a tradition that democrats who lose at both parliament and council by elections get frustrated to the point that some decampaign those who defeated them in favor of opposition. Others decide to dump the ruling party and join opposition parties where they can contest elections.
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