To some who attended the rally, the low turnout was described as a clear demonstration of the dwindling support base and lack of confidence towards the BMD. Francistown South is one of the areas where the party used to command a large following and before its feuding, its rallies in the constituency used to attract multitudes of people.
The weekend rally was the first major rally to be held in the area since the BMD’s violent congress in Bobonong last year, which ultimately led to the party splitting.
A handful of BMD members occupied the only tent pitched at the venue of the rally. There were also few people who were standing. The rally was scheduled to begin just after lunchtime, but started at around 4 pm because the crowd size had not improved at the anticipated time of start.
When addressing the rally, the BMD secretary general Gilbert Mangole said that on Friday his party wrote a 52-paragraph letter to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) disputing their suspension from the opposition coalition. “We will not agree to leave the UDC because we believe in opposition unity. They (BNF and BCP) can go and form their own pact,” said Mangole.
He further noted that the BMD and other parties in the UDC might soon engage in a prolonged legal battle.
According to Mangole, some prominent figures in the UDC hate Pilane and want him out because of his sheer brilliance and brutal honesty. “He is one man who calls a spade a spade. Some do not like this because they are fond of acting unethically for political expediency. That is why they want him out.” One of the major reasons cited for the suspension of the BMD was the negative resentment towards Pilane by some Batswana as well as his uncontrollable outbursts in the media, and his divisive tendencies.
The rally also showed the fractured nature of the relationship between the BMD and other UDC members particularly the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which may leave a clear path for the ruling party to easily win the 2019 general elections.
Earlier on, the BMD national organising secretary Freddy Ramodisa had labelled the BCP members and their president Dumelang Saleshando as greedy and thankless people. He said the BMD has sacrificed a lot for the BCP to be welcomed into the UDC and even gave the latter Maun West constituency for Saleshando to contest. He insinuated that the BCP was the source of troubles in the UDC. Ramodisa also described the suspension of the BMD from the UDC as nonsense. Saleshando has in the past been very critical of the BMD and at one point said that he deeply loathe Pilane who he said was stalling progress of the opposition coalition.