Bouyed by the defection of MP Bagalatia Arone to their fold, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will invade Okavango constituency over the weekend to welcome their new catch amid brewing tension over who between the two will represent Domkrag at the 2019 general elections.
Kambimba represented the BDP In the 2014 general elections while Arone represented the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). The latter emerged victorious, beating Mbaha to the seat by 6864 votes to 5473. While some critics speculate that by giving Arone a big festivity welcome into the party, the BDP might be signaling its endorsement for Arone’s candidature and in a way suggesting that they trust him, others argue that this is indeed a wise move, that it will in fact give the party an advantage and the much needed publicity to endear itself to Okavango constituency voters who have over the years shunned it. Be that as it may, vagueness as to who between Kambimba and Arone will represent the BDP in 2019 still persists.
While he may have lost the parliamentary seat in the 2014 elections, Kambimba is according to party insiders still a strong contender for the seat. In fact he was elected chairperson of the Okavango Sub District Council by the party caucus after he was roped in as a specially elected councilor, having lost the 2014 general elections. This move was seen as a deliberate effort by the ruling party to keep Kambimba in the constituency, close to his constituents where his visibility was bound to pave way for his campaign towards 2019. Though it is alleged that Kambimba had initially wanted to be Reaboka Mbulawa’s Assistant at the North West District Council as the Deputy Chairperson, a decision was taken to rather put him in Okavango Sub District Council where he can launch an intensive grassroots mobilization. Kambimba is said to be the most favorable candidate among ruling party members in the constituency.
His recent defection from the Botswana Congress Party to the ruling party has redefined his opponents’ plans and this includes those he finds in the ruling party like Kambimba. It is now no secret that Arone‘s closeness to President Ian Khama was the major cause of a rift between him and his former party the BCP. “He is the President’s man, Kambimba has every reason to be worried,” said one party insider who sympathises with the latter. Khama and Arone have been spotted on numerous occasions travelling and wining and dining together even before he defected to the ruling party. Upon his defection, the President flaunted him before the nation at a campaign event for Kelemogile ward by-election in Ramotswa, which was later aired on the national broadcaster Btv. Khama will again be the guest of honor this coming weekend at a star rally which will be hosted in Shakawe to officially welcome Arone to the BDP. According to the BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, most party big wigs will be in attendance since the President will be officiating.
Ntuane however refused to be drawn into discussing how Arone’s arrival into the party is alleged to have caused uneasiness among party members and his 2014 rival Kambimba. “I do not stay in Shakawe, so there is no how I can be privy to such information, and in any case we have not received any complaints from the Okavango constituency,” said Ntuane. One party insider who dismissed the hullabaloo surrounding Arone’s defection and its implications on Kambimba’s candidature in 2019 maintained that Kambimba’s loyalty to the party may give him an advantage over his counterpart even in the party primaries as the vetting process might render Arone an invalid. Asked about this, BDP Secretary General explained that although the party constitution states that any member defecting from another party should wait two years before they can be allowed to contest in party elections, there is a provision for a waiver. In this case, Ntuane confirmed that indeed a waiver will be provided and Arone will contest for the party primaries. The party he says will no longer hold primary elections in the constituency in 2017 as it was earlier planned as it is no longer in the hands of the opposition. “Because Arone is now in our camp the constituency is as good as ours in 2019,” he said.