March 9, 2006

BDP in new strategy to end factions

The faction-ridden Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has adopted a new strategy to achieve the unity that has eluded its rank and file for years. BDP executive secretary, Comma Serema announced that after several failures, the party was approaching the problem of factionalism differently. The BDP has been divided into two groups - the marginalised Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe faction and the dominant Nkate-Merafhe axis - and so far all efforts to bring peace have failed. In a new initiative to unite the party, teams have been set up to conduct seminars to preach unity in all the constituencies in the country. The seminars would also inform members about the revised BDP primary election rules. The revised rules are meant to address the problems identified in the open primary election system adopted in 2003. Serema stressed that the revised rules come with a well-defined code of conduct. He said the code prohibits celebrations, political rallies, publicity materials like T-shirts and posters during primary elections. The code of conduct encourages house-to-house campaigns during primary elections.

Serema is optimistic that the revised rules would reduce infighting among the party faithful. Such fights were widespread during the 2004 general elections with some party members resorting to court action. Those who fail to bide by the code of conduct will be fined. On April 1 and 2, the BDP will hold a national council meeting in Gaborone. Serema said party leader President Festus Mogae will reiterate the call for party unity. Kwelagobe will give the secretary-general's report on all that has been done by the party to bring unity. "The unity issue is obviously going to take centre stage and the party leadership is ready to roll out the unity issue to inform members about what has been done so far to bring unity with the BDP ranks," Serema said. For the past two years, the issue of unity has dominated the BDP agenda with no solutions. An order for the factions to dissolve has been publicly ignored. (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gabarone)

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