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

The Botswana People's Party (BPP) was formed during the colonial era, in December 1960. The first modern nationalist parties emerged in the early 1960s. As a result of the disappointment with the Legislative Council, the Bechuanaland People's Party (BPP) under the leadership of Dr Kgalemang T. Motsete - an accomplished music composer and educationist - was the first mass party to agitate for full independence not later than 1964.

Former treason trialist (under the Union of South Africa Terrorism Act) Mr. Motsamai Mpho was the secretary general. Internal dissention on the eve of the first national elections in 1965 resulted in a split and the birth of a new party - the Bechuanaland Independence Party under the leadership of Mpho. Motsete attempted to retain a small group of the BPP's old guard but lost power to Mr. Phillip Matante. The first general elections were held in March 1965 and the Bechuanaland Democratic Party (now Botswana Democratic Party) won in a landslide victory, taking 28 of the 31 contested seats. The BPP (then Bechuanaland Peoples Party) won three seats.

History[edit]

The party was formed in 1960 as the 'Bechuanaland People's Party under the leadership of Kgalemang T. Motsete and Philip Matante. 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 but it soon fell witness to in-fighting. The party soon became an opposition party to the traditionalist Botswana Democratic Party, led by Seretse Ian Khama.[1] The Bechuanaland People's Party was formed by Batswana who had political exposure and influence from Pan-Africanism and the South African political liberation movements namely the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC). Kwame Nkruma and his Ghana’s independence further spurred the BPP on. The main objective of the party was to liberate the people of the then Bechuanaland Protectorate from colonialism whose objective was achieved in September 1966 when the country became independent.

The first president of the BPP was Philip Matante who became the first Member of Parliament for Francistown and leader of the opposition during independence in 1966. As the vanguard of Botswana revolution, the BPP subscribes to the following principles: the promotion of unity on the basis of equality; of all ethnic and/or language groups in a democratic state with no social, economic, racial, tribal or religious discrimination.

The guaranteeing of the well-being and quality of life for every citizen of Botswana, the proper use of land and minerals there under as the common property of all in the mother land. Provision of work and conditions of work that ensure high levels of productivity and happiness for all. The guaranteeing to all the people of Botswana the right to life, liberty, security and equality before the law. The guaranteeing to all the people of Botswana the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in social, economic, political and cultural life. The guaranteeing of freedom of worship. The BPP motto is "Lefatshe la Rona" "Shango Yedu" "Ilizwe nge lethu!"

After Matante’s death the party started suffering. His death created a vacuum and because those who had worked with Matante had failed to take advantage of his popularity and build structures. His death reversed whatever gains the party had made hence the current decision of the leadership and youth to repair that damage. After losing all the seats allocated to them under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in 2014 general elections the BPP embarked on a mission to rebrand and become relevant to the politics of Botswana today. The intention is to revive the party and make it national as intended from the beginning.

The BPP have always advocated for opposition unity. In 1989 they had a working relationship with the now defunct Botswana Progressive Party. They were part of BAM and PACT and they are now of the UDC. However BPP continues to advocate for a complete merger of opposition parties giving reasons that, over the year’s pacts have proved to be fragile and prone to defections. Today the BPP strives to grow its membership and re-build their structures in order to play a significant role within the UDC. Their #RonaKoBPP social media hash tag has since received recognition across social media platforms hence giving hope to many that indeed the 50-year-old party is making its come back.

The party has since held its 50th elective congress under the theme "Proud of the Past, Confident of the Future", where a new National Executive Committee was elected. And for the first time it included people all parts of the country to prove a point that the BPP is not only for people in the North it is for all Botswana.

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