BPP: Time to do or die

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BPP: Time to do or die
BPP: Time to do or die

Africa-Press – Botswana. If the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) wants to survive in today’s political environment, it has to re-brand and adapt to new changes, political analyst Lesole Machacha opines.

Machacha’s observation comes after some people held the view that the party’s current survival was only because it was affiliated to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). “I believe that if the party was not affiliated to the UDC, it would not even be having a council candidate. It’s performance was drastically bad in the 2019 general election because it has one council candidate,” he said.

Besides having its affiliation with the umbrella movement, it was also saved by Member of Parliament for Francistown West constituency, Ignatius Moswaane who defected from the ruling party to join it alongside two councillors who supported him. Apart from Moswaane, other people who brought life to the BPP include party secretary-general Nono Kgafela-Mokoka and Phillip Bulawa who defected from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to join it. In the UDC affiliation, it is only the BPP that is weak, whilst the BCP and the BNF are strong.

Machacha explained that the BPP was not doing enough to be relevant outside the UDC and that it needs to know that it was still a party on its own, therefore, it must survive. “It’s dangerous for a small party to rely on the big ones because the big ones always have a plan to swallow the small ones. BPP needs to re-brand for it to survive and find ways to attract people. The BPP seems to be comfortable where it is. The time has come for the BPP to look for new members and a develop strategy on how to attract the youth,” Machacha said.

Further, Machacha said the BPP needs to tour the country so that they do not confine themselves to the north but also be known in other areas of the country. The analyst’s concern was that the party was not known on other sides of the country and was not doing enough on the matter. He said the BPP has to increase its numbers in both Parliament and councils and that is when Batswana can start taking them seriously and strengthen its financial position. Another political analyst Shirley Monyatsi said the BPP is not even known by laypersons and some people could ask what it means or if it still exists. “One could say the main goal of the formation of the party was the attainment of independence by Botswana. Post-1966 it was another inactive political party in Botswana. To say it is not doing enough marketing is an understatement. From the time it was founded to now, we can’t say it’s a lack of resources to blame. Lack of leadership, determination and resilience is the cause,” Monyatsi said.

Meanwhile, the BPP national organising secretary Mbaakanyi Smarts said they last held their elective congress in 2016 and are planning for another one before July 2022. “The reason why we could not hold any activity as a party was due to COVID-19. Our central committee has not met this year but it will meet soon to discuss the congress dates amongst other issues. Of course, some of our structures have collapsed due to COVID-19 but the party is acting on it. Currently, our national chairperson Phillip Bulawa is travelling around the country to revive and check the structures that we have been assigned by the UDC during the 2019 general election. Recently, our chairperson was at Boteti East and the report shows that the structures are active and doing well in terms of canvassing the area and looking for new members.

By next week, we will be checking the ones in Francistown and Tati East areas,” Mbaakanyi said. He added that the aim was to retain and win some constituencies and council seats for the party as a way of increasing party representation in both Parliament and councils. In addition, the national organising secretary said the issue of rebranding and strategy on how to attract youth to the party will be discussed at the congress. Mbaakanyi said they are slowly penetrating the southern side of the country as it has not been their strong area.

He continued: “We are aware that our win also could help UDC to increase its numbers in both Parliament and councils. It could also help the party’s financial muscle in the coming general election in 2024. I hope we will have a strategic committee that deals with the issues that are hindering us from progressing as a party”. Already, the BNF and the BCP are the strongest parties in the coalition and this may bring a threat to the BPP when other opposition parties seek affiliation to the UDC.

The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives are in cooperation talks with the UDC. AP has one MP and councillors while the BPF has four MPs and councillors. The two parties have a strong membership and can attract young people. Again, financial muscle for them is different from the BPP and how they organise things. Historically, the BPP is the oldest party and it has been known mostly in the north but has kept on losing its grip with time thereby making it irrelevant.

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