It is only a week before the Botswana national General elections are held and one of the most important constituencies that political parties want to take control of is the capital city Gaborone, the seat of government and Francistown, the second city.
The two cities are made up of eight constituencies with Gaborone having five and Francistown three.
Traditionally, Gaborone constituencies used to be opposition strongholds, especially the Botswana National Front (BNF) before it cracked and some members left to form Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in 1998.
Since 2004, BDP has made some inroads in the capital city, winning Gaborone North through Keletso Rakhudu while Margaret Nasha lost to Dumelang Saleshando of BCP by 91 votes.
In 2009 BDP almost won all the Gaborone constituencies losing only Gaborone Central to BCP as Saleshando retained it.
The political landscape has changed after the ruling party gave birth to its first offspring since it was formed in 1962; the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which has since joined forces with the BNF and Botswana Peoples party to form Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Most of the people who defected to the new party are mostly the youth who are a large portion of voters especially in urban areas.
This is the main constituency in the country as it hosts government enclave including the state house, University of Botswana among others. The constituency has been in the hands of BCP through their leader Saleshando. In 2009 he registered 6,102 votes followed by BDP represented by Kgomotso Mogami with 2,662 while Kagiso Thutlwe of BNF got 1,118 votes.
The main race will be between Saleshando and UDC candidate Phenyo Butale, who joined the race late after replacing Gomolemo Motswaledi who died in a car accident in July this year.
Butale is hoping that sympathy vote will work in his favour, while Saleshando will count on incumbency to win back the constituency.
BDP’s Rupert Hambira is going to be a surprise package but his chances are very slim while independent candidate Sidney Batsile is just adding numbers.
Number of registerd voters: 13,922
VERDICT: Saleshando is going to win the constituency but with a slim margin and experience will work in his favour. Butale’s late coming will be his downfall but still he might pull the rag under Saleshando’s feet and win the constituency for UDC. So, whichever way the opposition will win it.
This used to be the spiritual home of BNF under the leadership of its late charismatic leader, Dr Kenneth Koma. In those days, it was a no go area for the ruling party. However, since assuming power in 2008 President Ian Khama, made it his mission to ensure that they win the constituency.
In 2009, Khama’s BDP won the constituency by 2 853 votes followed by BNF represented by Akanyang Magama with 2,361 votes while BCP came third with 1,726.
The coming of UDC into the picture is likely to work for the BDP as currently, UDC member, Meshack Mthimukhulu is standing as an independent candidate and will definitely split votes against Murray Dipate of UDC.
The race will be between Molatlhegi of BDP and Magama of BCP while UDC and independent candidate will come behind.
Number of registered voters: 13,516
VERDICT: Molatlhegi is going to win the constituency for the BDP with a minimal margin.
Gaborone Bonnigton North
This is one constituency that is unpredictable since it has changed hands between BDP and BNF, while BCP always came second to either of the latter two.
BDP is currently in control of the constituency but its candidate, Robert Masitara has been at war with some party members as well as council candidates. They once wrote to the party leadership to withdraw his membership, saying they felt he was incompetent.
In 2009, he won the constituency by 5 814 votes followed by Anna Motlhagodi of BCP who got 4227 while BNF came third with 3 277 votes represented by Maemo Bantsi.
The entrance of UDC leader, Duma Boko in the constituency as a parliamentary candidate has made the race tighter and unpredictable. His launch last weekend showed that UDC is serious about winning the constituency. However, his absence on the ground is wanting.
Boko’s undoing is that he is not visible in the constituency as he is busy canvassing votes for the party nationally.
The margin will be very slim.
Number of registered voters: 16,588
VERDICT: The winner will come between Motlhagodi and Boko.
Gaborone Bonnington South
The race will be between two former political buddies who are now on different sides of the fence. Botsalo Ntuane and Ndaba Gaolatlhe are founding members of BDP’s offspring, BMD. Ntuane retraced his steps back and some pundits say this will cost him some votes.
Joined by BCP’s Abbey Chengeta, the race is highly contested with Gaolatlhe enjoying the support of the middle class while Ntuane is rooting his support among those in the low income locations of Gaborone West, whom he has consistently kept entertained through their favourite musicians, Trompies and Splash.
Vote splitting will mostly affect BDP than any other party in this constituency.
No one is clearly in pole position, but Gaolatlhe is slowly pushing ahead.
Registered voters: 13,712
VERDICT: Gaolatlhe will win it but with a very slim margin.
Like Gaborone South, this is one of the capital’s city first constituencies and traditionally belonged to BNF until in 2004, when Keletso Rakhudu won it for the BDP and since then it has been in their hands.
In the last elections, BDP was voted by 3 741. BCP represented by Motsei Rapelana got 3 498, while BNF led by Lemogang Ntime came third with 1 234 votes.
This year, the new entrant in the race is Gaborone mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa under the UDC ticket. His challenge might be that he is new in the constituency as he is a councilor in Gaborone South.
Rakhudu, though he is the incumbent is on slippery grounds as his support is said to be poor from the constituency. Rapelana or Nkaigwa will bag it at the elections.
Registered voters: 15,080
VERDICT: Rakhudu is likely to bag it at the elections.
The constituency has been in the hands of BDP until 2010, when their cadre, Wynter Mmolotsi defected to BMD with the seat.
In this year’s elections, he will face his political nemesis, Vain Mamela of BCP and Sylvia Muzila of BDP.
Though the BCP and BDP are doing everything in their power to win the constituency, it seems the UDC parliamentary candidate has worked hard to entrench himself in the hearts of the people of Francistown South.
Registered voters: 12,318
VERDICT: Mmolotsi is going to retain the constituency but do not expect landslide victory.
It will be contested by Morgan Moseki of BCP, Buti Billy of BDP and Theresa Mmolawa of UDC.
The real tussle on the 24th of October will be between Moseki and Billy while Mmolawa will just be an observer.
In 2009, Moseki garnered 3,130 votes against Phandu Sekelemani who got 3,698. This year, Moseki faces Sekelemani’s former campaign manager, who is also a sitting councillor in the constituency, Billy. If he plays his cards very well, Moseki might pull a victory in this constituency which is marginal.
Registered voters: 12,481
VERDICT: Billy will win the constituency but Moseki might pull a rag under his feet.
This constituency has made a lot of history, going into the 2014 general elections due to the issues that surrounded it after the death of its MP Tshelang Masisi in 2012.
it is in this constituency that for the first time in the history of Botswana politics BDP failed to field a parliamentary candidate in a bye election after court interdiction. It was the area that gave Botswana its first opposition female MP, Dr Habaudi Hubona.
BDP has gone all out to redeem its dented image and has fielded the dramatic Ignatious Moswaane to face Dr Hubona of BCP, Richard Tambula of UDC and an independent candidate, Joseph Mabutho.
Registered voters: 10,196
VERDICT: BDP is going to win the constituency through its candidate Moswaane followed by BCP.