While a little crack on Botswana People’s Party President Motlatsi Molapisi’s veranda could simply be natural wear, it could also be seen as symbolic of the current impasse within the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
Molapisi, who is also UDC Chairperson, has been in the news recently following his party’s ‘boycott’ of two meetings called by UDC Executive Committee.
Seen as an act of defiance against UDC leader Duma Boko, BPP were accused of being anti Botswana Congress Party and pro Ndaba Gaolathe.
With the umbrella facing their biggest challenge yet, despite being viewed by many as an insignificant member in opposition politics, the BPP’s stinging punches are believed to be one of the reasons for BCP’s hasty decision to join UDC.
Amidst rumours of tension between him and his Chairperson, Richard Gudu, BPP’s commitment to the UDC project was also questioned and at the centre of it all is the party’s fiery, yet unassuming leader.
In this interview with Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo, Molapisi separates truth from fiction and crudely warns the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to prepare for life in the opposition trenches.
Q. The BPP has lately been accused of delaying UDC interventions on the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) crisis.
This has resulted in some people questioning your commitment to the UDC project and calling for your expulsion. Are you aware of these public concerns?
Let me start by stating that BPP is a member of UDC in good standing.
Some of the things said in the media are unfounded and are being peddled by journalists who have allowed themselves to be used by politicians.
Q. If you want the BMD impasse to be solved, why did you boycott the two meetings called by UDC?
Well for the first meeting the UDC leadership is aware that the BPP had requested that their issue of constituencies be resolved because it is an old issue.
However, the party proceeded to deal with fresh matters, which we felt could wait.
Q. Could one of those fresh matters be accepting BCP Members of parliament into the UDC fold?
I’d like to clear this issue once and for all. I have absolutely no objection to BCP’s arrival into UDC.
All I was saying is BPP had made it categorically clear that the party was under-represented in the constituency allocation and we felt it was important for the matter to be dealt with.
I however got assurance from Comrade Boko that the matter will be finalised.
Q. You have demanded four more constituencies on top of the four you were allocated. Which constituencies are you eyeing?
We know the constituencies we want but I can’t name them to avoid a conflict.
It’s an internal matter that we are dealing with.
I can however state that the four constituencies we wanted have been allocated to the BCP and it was agreed that we could be allocated constituencies from either BNF or BMD and trade off with BCP.
Q. Your demand for more constituencies has been dismissed by political observers and allegedly does not have the blessings of your Chairman, Richard Gudu.
Everyone has the right to an opinion. We are an important member of the UDC and have every right to stake our claim.
I however have to dismiss media reports stating that the BPP is divided.
Mr Gudu and myself are working well together and want the same things for the party and the umbrella.
Q. The BPP underwent a restructuring exercise recently, which saw new young faces coming into the Executive Committee.
Some of these young people who were active on social media would later be linked with the DISS. They have since reduced their activism.
Have you ever been warned about the possibility of a DISS infiltration?
We heard such rumours but I personally have never seen anything to suspect that they were DISS operatives.
I think they got demoralised by such rumours and stopped working for the party.
Q. Following the BMD split in Bobonong the UDC is rocking.
While some members are siding with the Pilane faction you and others are said to be behind Ndaba and even willing to join him should he form a new party. Your comment?
People have to understand that Ndaba is the UDC Vice President.
We were close when he left Bobonong and we are still close.
He can’t all of a sudden become my enemy simply because his party fought in Bobonong. However, once again the media has created stories.
Ndaba has never mentioned formation of a new party.
What I know is UDC is dealing with the BMD issue and I’m confident that it’ll be resolved.
Q. How important is the BMD to the success of UDC in 2019?
There are those who want to downplay the BMD’s importance under the rhetoric that they have never been tested in an election.
Look here this is simple mathematics. Opposition got 17 seats for the first time and we have to thank BMD for that.
They have brought the numbers and their significance should never be underestimated.
To take power we have to dismantle the ruling party and BMD is the one party that can help us dismantle BDP because they are close to them.
Other parties in the UDC are viewed more as leftist and we have people who are uncomfortable with our brand of politics, that is where BMD comes in to regulate this fear and welcome members from the ruling party who may be uncomfortable with BNF or BPP policies.
Q. How much of a threat to the UDC is the BMD split?
The split confuses voters – that’s why it is important for us to move quickly to resolve this issue.
Elections are all about building confidence; once electorates doubt our capabilities they’ll punish us at the polls.
We have to restore order at BMD and resolve the outstanding constituency issue.
Q. Oppositions splits are legendary in Botswana. In fact there seems to be a pattern that whenever they look strong enough to take over governance they break up. What could be the cause of this?
For some of us who have seen it all we were not surprised when BMD fell apart.
It has always been due to infiltration by state organs.
The BDP has managed to use poverty to infiltrate opposition; those who can’t resist the lure of money have been used to derail the struggle in the last four decades.
Our state organs operate at the whims of the president.
A typical example is the recent whipping of unemployed youth at parliament.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the whipping was ordered by the president.
Q. The BDP insists that ‘there’s still no alternative’. In its current state is the opposition an alternative government?
Don’t be fooled by the cunning BDP. They have more problems than the UDC.
It’s only that their members can’t complain because once you do you are kicked off from the feeding table.
Our members are unemployed and poor so are free to express themselves because they have nothing to lose.
BDP members have businesses and are winning tenders, they are being controlled and oppressed but won’t raise their voice and risk losing everything.
UDC is an alternative, a party of free souls.