The Okavango constituency is expected to be amongst those that will give spectators a marvel of a show in the current countdown to the 2019 General Elections. Though previously held by the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP), this changed after the incumbent Member of Parliament Bagalatia Arone defected to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), hence as it is the constituency is held by the ruling party. While some political commentators argue that Arone’s defection does not necessarily mean voters have also defected with him and that he risks losing the constituency to the opposition in 2019 general elections, it would seem the BDP does not view matters in the same light, and consider the constituency a safe constituency for them. The fact that the Okavango constituency has been excluded from the first round of the party’s Bulela Ditswe primary elections demonstrates this. Last year, the BDP welcomed Arone into the party in a rally filled with pomp and song which some saying it might be signaling its endorsement for Arone’s 2019 candidature. Those within the party structures in the constituency reveal that though the understanding is that primary elections in the constituency will be held in 2018, this is just a cover-up for the favoritism that Arone is already receiving from the party elders. “They want him to buy time, and rally voters to emulate him by moving to the BDP,” said one BDP insider. The pint-sized outspoken MP is expected to face it off with among others Mbaha Kambimba, who represented the party in the 2014 general elections, ironically against Arone and was dismally thrashed to a humiliating loss.
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 handed the chairpersonship of the Okavango Sub District Council on a silver platter by the party caucus after losing the 2014 general elections. This was after he was roped in as a specially elected councilor. This move was seen as a deliberate effort by the ruling party to keep Kambimba in the constituency and 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 a deputy chairperson for the North West District Council, a decision was taken to rather put him at Okavango Sub District Council where he would launch intensive grassroots mobilisation. Post the 2018, primary elections whoever will win is expected to face a mammoth task in wading off competition from the opposition. As it is, the constituency has been allocated to the BCP with former Botswana’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Kenny Kapinga fingered as the most likely candidate. Kapinga has already been officially introduced in the constituency and has hit the ground running by making his voice heard in political circles. He recently won the hearts of many when he boldly swore to assist in identifying and bringing to book corrupt politicians and government officials should the UDC win the 2019 general elections. A native of the constituency, the former Botswana Police Assistant commissioner is said to be commanding quite a huge following in the constituency.