The 2014 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Parliamentary candidate in Okavango constituency Mbahahauka Kambimba who lost to Bagalatia Arone has shaken off any threat from Arone with expectations that the two will jostle it out for the BDP ticket in 2019. Arone’s recent defection from Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to the BDP will reignite rivalry between him and Kambimba in the race for Okavango constituency in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections. Arone’s arrival at the BDP has changed political dynamics and landscape in the Okavango constituency. However, Kambimba confirmed that his dream of winning the constituency remains intact in 2019. Kambimba is a nominated councillor and was appointed chairman of Okavango sub district after losing to Arone in the 2014. Arone, who was standing under BCP ticket won by 6864 votes, while Kambimba got 5473 votes and Vistor Moruti of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) got 215 votes.
Kambimba insisted that Arone‘s move to the BDP will not stop him from representing the people of Okavango. He said every member in the BDP has equal right to stand for elections in the party. “I am open to be challenged by anyone and my chances of standing are no better that anyone,” he said, adding that as a member of the BDP he has the duty to recruit members such as Arone to the party. He said should Arone declare to stand for BDP primary elections in 2018, BDP members will decide who will represent them by a ballot. “His defection to BDP does not change my intention of representing the people of Okavango,” he said.
A BDP insider said both candidates have the equal chances. “Kambimba is on the ground managing the day to day development in the Okavango sub district while Arone is implementing policy at parliament,” an insider said. Kambimba, insiders say, has an edge over Arone as he has the members from the BDP in both cell and ward committee. “Kambimba has his BDP supporters on the ground while Arone is a new member in the BDP. He has to work hard to get supporters in the BDP unless there are some people from BCP who will follow him which I doubt,” a source said.
Meanwhile, Arone is viewed as one of the big catches for the BDP. Another source said Arone is a youthful legislator who is vocal at Parliament on issues from his constituency. “Arone is a big catch and he has the experience in Parliament; so I would prefer him than Kambimba,” another source indicated. When defecting to the BDP his reasons were that being in the opposition has disadvantaged his constituency in terms of development. He said Okavango was ravaged by poverty and rising unemployment numbers and had remained less developed because it is in the hands of the opposition. The constituency has for many years remained an opposition stronghold.
When reached for comment Arone refused to comment on the matter, noting was called at an inconvenient time. Arone also told this reporter he should have asked him long while he was in the constituency. “I am coming there again next week to meet people at the constituency,” he said before hung on the phone.
Nevertheless, his defection to the BDP has opened opportunities for new entrants from both opposition and ruling party who want to contest for the constituency.