Botswana People's Party

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Botswana People's Party
Leader Motlatsi Molapisi
Secretary-General Onalenna Chabaya
Founder Kgalemang T. Motsete
Founded 1960
Headquarters Shango house, Francistown
Ideology Pan-Africanism
National affiliation Umbrella for Democratic Change

The Botswana People's Party (BPP) was formed as the Bechuanaland People's Party during Botswana's colonial era, in December 1960. As a result of disappointment with the Legislative Council, under the leadership of Kgalemang T. Motsete, an accomplished music composer and educationist, BPP became the first mass party to agitate for full independence.

Motsamai Mpho, who had been tried for treason under the Union of South Africa Terrorism Act, was the secretary general. Internal dissension during the first national elections in 1965 resulted in a schism and the birth of the Bechuanaland Independence Party (now Botswana Independence Party) under Mpho's leadership. Motsete attempted to retain a small group of the BPP's old guard but lost power to Phillip Matante. The first general elections were held in March 1965, and the Bechuanaland Democratic Party (now Botswana Democratic Party) won a landslide victory, taking 28 of the 31 contested seats. BPP won three seats.

History[edit]

The party was formed in 1960 as the Bechuanaland People's Party under the leadership of Motsete, Matante and Mpho.[1] The party's formation was indirectly stimulated by the flow of South African exiles following the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960. The party's structure was based on the African National Congress (ANC), but infighting quickly plagued the party. The party became an opposition party to the traditionalist Botswana Democratic Party, led by Seretse Ian Khama.[2] .

Totsete had political exposure and influence from the Pan-Africanism and South African political liberation movements, namely the ANC and the Pan African Congress (PAC). Kwame Nkruma and Ghanaian independence further influenced the BPP. The main objective of the party was to liberate the people of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from colonialism; this objective was achieved in September 1966 when the country became independent.

Matante was the first president of BPP. He became the first member of parliament for Francistown and the leader of the opposition during independence in 1966. Matante's death created a power vacuum that led to the reversal of many of the gains that the party had made. In the 2014 general elections the BPP was granted six northern constituencies under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), as the north had historically been a BPP stronghold, but lost each one of them. The party's goal became to rebrand for the 2019 elections by establishing youth structures and regaining interest in the party under the leadership of president Mbaakanyi Smart.[3].

BPP always advocated for opposition unity. In 1989, they had a working relationship with the now defunct Botswana Progressive Party. They were part of the Botswana Alliance Movement and PACT and joined the UDC. However, BPP continues to advocate for a complete merger of opposition parties, primarily because these pacts have proved to be fragile and prone to defections. Their #RonaKoBPP social media hash tag received recognition across social media platforms.

The party held its 50th elective congress under the theme "Proud of the Past, Confident of the Future", where a new National Executive Committee was elected. For the first time it included people from all parts of the country in an attempt to nationalize the party, weakening the perception that the BPP serves only Botswana in the north.

Principles[edit]

BPPs principles are:

  • promotion of unity on the basis of equality for all ethnic and/or language groups in a democratic state with no social, economic, racial, tribal or religious discrimination;
  • well-being and quality of life;
  • proper use of land and minerals identified as the common property of all in the motherland;
  • provision of work and conditions of work that ensure high levels of productivity and happiness for all;
  • right to life, liberty, security and equality before the law;
  • freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in social, economic, political and cultural life;
  • freedom of worship

The BPP motto is "Lefatshe la Rona", "Shango Yedu", and "Ilizwe nge lethu!"

References[edit]