Party on membership drive in the southern part of the country

The country’s oldest political party - Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) - has been on a membership drive in the southern part of the country.

Secretary general Nono Kgafela-Mokoka revealed that the party leadership has been assigned by the party President Motlatsi Molapisi to register new members and build party structures in the south.

“We do have new members here and structures and what is expected is that we should solidify the existing ones and form structures where they do not exist,” said Kgafela-Mokoka, who hails from Mochudi.

Once upon a time, Mochudi was a BPP stronghold. Nono-Kgafela admits that this is not the first time that such an assignment was given by the party leader.

“The difference is that, this time around, there are deadlines and monthly reports,” she said.

According to her, what will then follow is that the party president would visit the structures to welcome and motivate them. The party will also hold a retreat which allows the new and old members to know each other before the congress.

“There will be many new members hence the need for the old and new members to meet so that they are not meeting for the first time at the congress, which will happen immediately after the nationalisation effort,” she revealed.

The membership drive in the south is designed to bridge the decline that the party has experienced over the years to the extent of losing members to the more vibrant political parties such as the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), as well as the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP.

For its decline, its competitors ridiculed it by nicknaming it panyapanya which is Setswana for firefly or glow-worm. It was also derisively labelled letlotla meaning an abandoned home.

BPP critics further accused it of tribalism as the party called for tribal equality in the country. Its absence in the southern part of the country which led to its public rallies being addressed in the Kalanga language validated those who accused it of being tribally based.

The fall of the Soviet Union, together with the end of colonialism in Africa, diminished the potency of political ideologies and the decline of pan-Africanism as talking points.

Undoubtedly Ignatius Moswaane’s joining of the party with two Councillors from the BDP at the end of last year gave the party the much-needed impetus.

Several politicians including from the academia Ntsima, Nono Kgafela-Mokoka, and Professor Philip Bulawa have added attraction to the BPP. The membership to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has perhaps reduced pressure on the BPP as the opposition cooperation project has, since 2014, protected the party from cooperation with the other opposition parties.

With only one councillor countrywide after the 2019 general election, two who defected with Moswaane and one MP, it is possible that had it not been for the opposition cooperation project, the BPP would not have won the Moselewapula ward. Instead of competition, there has been collaboration.