Mixed reaction to BMD launch in Francistown
As the country celebrated President’s Day on Thursday there was both good and bad news for the beleaguered head of state.
In an opinion poll carried out by The Voice in BDP defector Samson Moyo’s constituency, the ruling party maintained a healthy support base despite the inroads of the newly formed BMD. Meanwhile at the impressive turn out for the party’s launch last Saturday in Francistown, many people confessed that the only party they were interested in was the one involving the music.
In canvassing 500 voters with the question, ‘If there was an election tomorrow, who would you vote for?’ – the BDP won the support of 45% of those interviewed.
Voters in Matshelagabedi Village, who expressed confusion over the political vacuum left by their MP’s defection to the BMD, still registered their loyalty to the party they voted in the last election (See story on page 16).
At the massively attended BMD rally in Francistown, opinion was divided over the merits of the new party.
Dineo Boitshwarelo, 28, from Monarch admitted that she was only there for the music. “It’s something to do on a Saturday afternoon. I’m here to enjoy myself and I don’t intend letting politics stand in the way of a good party.
“ If the BMD want to give me a T-shirt I’ll take it. If they want to put on a music festival I’ll attend it, but if they want me to vote for them, they will have to be a lot more convincing. The BMD talk of change, but from what to what? It seems everyone is excited, but most politicians make promises they have little intention of keeping.”
Others also expressed shock and disappointment at BMD interim leadership member Ndaba Gaolatlhe’s revelation that the new party had no policies. “We don’t have any policy now but we expect to have one in the near future. We are still consulting with members of the public and getting views so as to have a policy that favours the majority,” Goalatlhe told the packed Chedu-Choga freedom square.
What also irked many people at the massively publicised rally was that nothing much was said by the movement’s interim leadership apart from bashing the President and calling him names.
Amongst other opinions expressed Mmoloki Tlhomola said: “I am a BCP supporter and as an opposition I was curios thinking that these guys have sometime new to tell, but they just talked of petty issues and followed the predictable strategy of bashing and attacking their enemy, the President.
“Yes the rally was well organised and publicised, but the line-up of speakers spoke without substance in my opinion,” he said.
Amongst those expressing support for the new party, Dimpho Mashaba expressed the view: “The BMD believe in the principle of participatory democracy, but in Domkrag President Khama makes and takes decisions alone. BMD advocates for freedom of speech so that people can debate and make decision without interference.
“Under Khama the majority of people are living in absolute fear apart from his loved ones and close relatives. People no longer have privacy, since their communication through telephones is closely monitored. We are against early retirements of some workers like Major General Pius Mokgware. We are fed up with President Khama and his dictatorship. Botswana is for us all not only one man and his relatives and friends,” he said.
Gaborone councillor Isaac Malipiti, who was excited by the turn out at the rally added: “I am a BMD member and this has nothing to do with my MP. I took the move merely for my supporters’ sake. When I told my supporters about the confusion and my discomfort with the President, they advised me to follow Ntuane who was already dismissed by Khama. That was then that I decided to quit BDP to join BMD. In short I hate the way things are done at BDP,” he said.
By 4pm the talking temporarily stopped and the music began. Crowd favourite Dan Tshanda alias Splash came on stage and many began dancing. It was a short interlude, with the main festival scheduled for later that evening, before the politicians took over again.
Independent Lobatse MP Nehemiah Mudubule said he was available whenever they wanted him to join the BMD. But by now many were looking at their watches as they had another decision to make, to stay or go home and watch the World Cup on TV. It had been one of those days.