MELS Movement of Botswana

Archive.today Politics of Botswana Botswana Democratic Party
MELS Movement of Botswana
PresidentThemba Joina
First SecretaryMosalage Ditshoto
Founded1984 as a study movement, 1994 as political party
Political positionFar-left
0 / 63
Pan African Parliament
0 / 5

The MELS Movement of Botswana is a Marxist-Leninist communist party in Botswana without parliamentary representation. Themba Joina, a practicing lawyer, is the president of the organization.[2][3] The name MELS is derived from (Karl) Marx, (Friedrich) Engels, (Vladimir) Lenin and (Joseph) Stalin.[4]

MELS emerged as a study group inspired by Mao Zedong and Pan-Africanism, founded at the Shashe Senior Secondary School in 1984. Its founding general secretary was Christopher Phatshwe.[2][5] The basic political documents of the movement were drafted by Christopher Phatshswe and Thomson Proctor.[5] Branches of the movement were formed at different educational institutions, such as the University of Botswana, Senior Secondary Schools and teacher training colleges.[2] According to Joina, the group had contacts with the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCM(A)) and the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) in neighbouring South Africa and MELS activists received political trainings from these groups. The MELS group constituting itself as a political party in 1994.[2] Following Phatshwe's death, Mosalage Ditshoto became the new general secretary of the party.[2] As of 2008, Mpho Mokano served as the youth secretary of the party.[6]

The MELS Movement advocates socialist policies, calling for support to unemployed and the setting up of Student Representative Councils across the country.[7] MELS Movement decries the Botswana Democratic Party rule as 'neo-colonial'.[7] Regarding regional issues, MELS Movement opposes the positions of Ian Khama's government towards the political situation in Zimbabwe (charging the Botswana government with having sided with the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwean politics).[8] At the 2011 annual delegates conference of the party in Molepolole, Joina condemned the NATO attack on Libya and called on the African Union to intervene.[9]

At the time of the 1994 parliamentary election MELS joined the United Democratic Front, a coalition of parties opposed to both the BDP and the BNF. No MELS nor any other UDF candidate was able to get elected.[10] The party contested the 1999 general election, but merely received twenty-two votes (0.01% of the national vote).[11] Prior to the election, Joina stated that the party only possessed one campaign vehicle and thus party activists had to move by foot to reach voters.[12] Following the election the MELS Movement candidate in the Gaborone West constituency, Ndiye Tlhatlogang, charged the Independent Electoral Commission with irregularities.[13]

At the 2009 general election, the party presented candidates in four parliamentary constituencies and two in local constituencies. None were elected.[14] In total the party got 292 votes (0.05% of the national vote).[15] The party contested the 2010 by-election in the Tonota North parliamentary constituency, fielding Mbayani Tshekedi Phalalo as its candidate.[16][17]


  1. ^ Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana. MELS Movement Botswana Archived 2012-11-27 at Archive.today
  2. ^ a b c d e Weekend Post. The origins of MELS - The Great Phatshwe
  3. ^ Mmegi Online Botswana silent on Manzunzu fraud charges
  4. ^ Fombad, Charles Manga. Media Law in Botswana. Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2011. p. 14
  5. ^ a b Daily News. BOPA News on 20 October 2004
  6. ^ Mmegi Online. MELS against Zim elections petition Archived 2012-11-30 at Archive.today
  7. ^ a b Daily News. BOPA News on 18 August 1999
  8. ^ Sunday Standard. ‘Khama must apologize to Mugabe’ - MELS Archived 2013-02-18 at Archive.today
  9. ^ Mmegi Online. MELS calls for AU military intervention in Libya
  10. ^ Sebudubudu, David and Bertha Z. Osie-Hwedie. Pitfalls of parliamentary democracy in Botswana
  11. ^ Electoral Commissions Forum (Southern African Development Community), and Denis Kadima. Botswana Elections Observer Mission Report, 16 October 1999. Auckland Park, South Africa: Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, 1999. p. 24
  12. ^ Daily News. BOPA News on 20 October 1999
  13. ^ Daily News. BOPA News on 22 October 1999
  14. ^ Mmegi Online Joina wants social democratic parties to unite
  15. ^ Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana. 2009 General Elections Report[dead link]
  16. ^ Mmegi Online. MELS accuses media of blackout in Tonota North
  17. ^ Sunday Standard. MELS dismisses opposition coalition in Tonota North Constituency Archived August 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine