The former chairperson of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) interim youth league Committee, Armstrong Dikgafela has denied that his old new party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) paid him P100 000 to rejoin it.
He said he retraced his steps back to the BDP because he lost confidence in the opposition and is now gearing to de-campaign the opposition and recruit opposition youth into the BDP. Dikgafela spoke to The Voice in an exclusive interview this week.
Q.How is it being back in your old party after your one- year break?
A. It feels so great to be back in the BDP after having left the party as its youth wing chairman. It is great in the sense that I made a choice at that time to leave the party and I strongly felt that many things were not being done the right way, only to learn that I was mislead. By then a lot of emotions were involved, there were exaggerated facts regarding the BDP problems. After a year in the opposition I realised BDP was managing its affairs far much better than the opposition.
Q.You claim to have been misled to leave the BDP. Did you leave the party because you experienced “Khama’s iron rule fist tactics” or you left because you heard about it in the corridors and decided to leave?
A. To tell the truth, youthful people sometimes rebel against their parents when they feel oppressed. The thing is parents sometimes act in a certain way because they want what is in the best interest of their children and on the contrary the children would feel oppressed. That is exactly what happened at the BDP. The ultimate goal of the leadership was to guide us in the right political route and we misinterpreted that as tyrannical.
Q.So how did you approach the President after all the negative things you said about him when you left for BMD?
A. We spoke things at that time but we apologized for what we said. We said we are sorry for whatever we said about the president and the party. We said we apologize to the nation because we were childish and immaturity influenced our actions. What I can say is that after a year in the opposition politics I have learnt a lot, discovered my mistakes and my interpretation of things is much mature and wiser.
Q.What value are you bringing to the BDP and what notable achievements have you and your committee made at the BMD?
A. We did a lot for the BMD. We travelled to different constituencies where we recruited many young people to the party. We raised funds especially when the BMD leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi needed to settle the legal fees for the case he lost against BDP and its President. There is little wonder then, that when I left the BMD the outcry was almost as if they (BMD) had lost a Minister.
Q. But they said you are no big fish in the BDP net. What do you say about that?
A. I am not into politics to make a name but to represent people and ensure that our democratic principles are upheld. My interest is that we respect the rights of every citizen. Some people are saying all these things because they are bitter that I left their party.
Q. The BDP is said to have bought you back with P100 000. Can you confirm or deny the allegation?
A. What I can say is that I heard Wynter Mmolotsi, the BMD secretary general making that accusation. So let us not discuss this further because I intend taking legal action against him for defamation of my character. What I mean is that nothing of this sort ever happened. I was not bought.
Q. There are accusations all over social networks that you sold BMD party T-shirts and squandered all the money. Did you have monetary problems before you rejoined the BDP?
A. The T-shirt accusation is baseless. It is a mudsling campaign against myself and the committee that I worked with. If there was an issue, the BMD would have raised it, but some people want to tarnish my name because I left the opposition to join the ruling party. It is a common thing in our politics, when someone defect to another party they are verbally attacked. For anyone’s information, I have never been a treasurer in my life. I don’t handle money. Mudslinging politics will never get us anywhere and do not help in the development of anyone.
Q.I heard you crashed your BMW car within a month of purchase. Were you too stressed with the current political affairs?
A.Yes I crushed the car, but it was just an accident. It can happen to anyone.
Q. I heard it was partly because you do not have a driver’s license?
A. Those are personal questions, I am not going to discuss that. You gave me an impression that we are going to talk politics.
Q. Alright then. What do you have to say about the gift given to you by President Khama. I understand he gave you a red tie in February.
A. It is not true that the President gave me a red tie on Valentines’ day. You said Valentine, didn’t you?
Q. No, I said February.
A.The truth is he did give me two ties, but not on Valentine’s day. What happened was, during one of the BDP central committee meetings I happened to be wearing a tie which did not have party colours. The president asked me why I was not wearing a tie with party colours and I told him I did not own one. He therefore said he would give me some ties. It was after the Kanye congress, which was in 2010.
Q So, when exactly did he give you the ties?
A.I cannot recall the exact date, but I am certain it was in 2009 and after the July congress, so it could not have been in February. There was nothing wrong with that because in politics people exchange gifts.
For instance the BMD secretary general, Wynter Mmolotsi was recently presented with fifteen different coloured ties by the Vice President (Mompati Merafhe).
Q. Interesting. Now tell me, what did you do with your BDP regalia when you decided to join BMD and what is going to happen to your BMD collection?
A. I discarded some of the BDP clothes and gave some away. I still have the BMD clothes but I intend getting rid of them very soon. I don’t plan to keep anything that belong to my opponents.
Q. What is your position regarding the state of affairs of opposition politics in the country?
A. What we should emphasize about opposition parties in Botswana is that they are self-destructive. They always say BDP sponsor their woes and splits, but that is a mere myth. They groom their youth in such a way that all they know is to oppose. Even when there is nothing to fight, they try to find things to fight about and they even fight amongst themselves. That is all they know, fight, fight and fight all the time. For example, they could not work peacefully amongst themselves so much that they had to form a coup against their own leader of opposition in Parliament. That is how I understand our opposition politics.
Q. What are your thoughts on umbrella two? Do you think it will take off?
A. Not at all. Parties involved in Umbrella one didn’t have plan B. They did not plan of the next move in case the unity talks failed hence they were in constant conflict. The talks were clouded with greed. Even when they had conflict over constituencies so much that the talks reached a stalemate, none of the parties were willing to compromise. Even the BMD was greedy because it could have yielded if it was not so bent on satisfying self interests. If there is stalemate someone must compromise and yield for progress sake. After the attitude displayed in umbrella one I don’t see Umbrella two making any progress. In fact I cannot wait to see umbrella four because it would ultimately come to that. By the time they reach that stage the 2014 general elections would have arrived. The opposition is wasting its time on this Umbrella thing.
Q. You surely are speaking a different language. If the Dikgafela of three months ago was to meet Dikgafela of today, they would definitely not notice each other.
A. For a full year I was in the opposition and I am in a better position to tell Batswana that they should not be deceived. They should think about what would happen to their dear country if they put it in the hands of the opposition. With its constant fights the opposition would lead the country into disaster. Imagine when they (Opposition leaders) start fighting for positions when they are in power, what would happen to the economy? Who would plan for the country’s development when the country is faced with political instability? Investors would not want to come to such a country. We have seen it happening in other countries and we do not want to risk taking that route. I made a mistake by leaving the BDP then, but I am happy today because I learnt from my mistake. I now know that there is still no alternative, BDP is the only party that can democratically and successfully rule this nation.