Behind UDC’s defeat in Sekoma

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 March 2016   |   By Richard

The only way out for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to consolidate a win in this ward was to use its financial muscle in getting people’s stomachs filled. Politically speaking, this past weekend was the busiest in the calendar of politics in Botswana. We saw two political giants squiring at each other and in the process they produced a cloud of dust that could not be ignored even by those who seem less interested in politics. After a dominance of the council ward for twenty-two years by the opposition, there are certainly variable reasons why the BDP was ultimately able to take the ward. The campaigning was so intense that one could not differentiate if this was done at ward or constituency level. Let us now look at all the available variables that contributed to the current political outcome, an outcome that both parties did not necessarily anticipate. The UDC depended so much on the part of history for their ultimate win of the ward. On the other hand, the BDP fought with everything that was at their disposal against the facts of history. When two armies squire up at war, their commanders-in-chief - the best suited generals - are selected for the war. Generals also regularly refer to war as a campaign. In politics like in the military, the best generals are deployed for the anticipated warfare. In this case this was desert warfare. In politics, this was a purely rural ward enclosed within a rural constituency.

The decisive battle of Magotswane, a settlement where a little over 500 voters were registered was the determination for the current results. Besides the campaign managers, in this settlement Haskins Nkaigwa (MP for Gaborone North) was pitted against Botlhogile Tshireletso (MP for Mahalapye East). Tshireletso is a master tactician of rural politics. Nkaigwa understands urban warfare better and he would be best suited for the upcoming Francistown by-election. Tshireletso resonates better with grassroots people in rural areas than Nkaigwa would. The first undoing factor in this whole affair was the conduct of the primary election for UDC. After the passing-on of the seating councillor of the UDC, the party took time to kick-start their campaign. They did this to try and show respect for the deceased. The long mourning session meant less time was available to deal with complaints that manifested out of the primary election. The BDP capitalised on this and they provided some element of solace for those grieving the loss of the primary election. By the way, UDC must not in any way regret the exercise of democracy by way of primary election. The decisive battle of Magotswane literally decided the outcome of the election. The people in this settlement had scores to settle with those in Sekoma. They believe that candidates coming out of Sekoma have in the past not given them enough attention and hence the backlog of developments in their settlement. The BDP came with the promise of water, a source that has for decades been so scarce in this place.

It was particularly here where the BDP capitalised with food parcels. The free distribution of food parcels is tempting to every rural dweller and the ruling party had dedicated reasonable resources to make sure that every family gets a share of this freebie. But how else would one expect a resource rich party to behave in such a situation? The only way out for the BDP to consolidate a win in this ward was to use its financial muscle in getting people’s stomachs filled.
The issue of political complaisance on the part of the opposition has also contributed in the loss of their critical ward. No party accedes to defeat before the actual election results are out. But in the case of the UDC, they believed they could not lose until the final hammer. The UDC failed to use its firepower to the optimum. Dr Nasha defected just at the right time to bring desirable influence in the campaign for this council ward. She should have been co-opted as a campaign manager for this election. Instead she was only paraded as a new found trophy for the party, forgetting that she could be useful in the past campaign.

Nasha would have been ideal to counter Tshireletso who is also a woman. Pound for pound, Nasha would come top. It seems the UDC undermined the entry of Tshireletso into the campaign. When she did, they did not act to counter balance her effect. This is a lesson to the opposition party that they should not leave anything to chance in future by-elections. The final outcome of this by-election shows that the BDP made a quintessential ambush for the UDC and the latter party was not prepared for the firepower they received from their opponents. At the end of the day, the BDP has used every one of its ammunition to win this by-election.
Political commentator