Will the VP muscle work?

SHARE   |   Sunday, 25 January 2015   |   By Phllimon Mmeso
VP Masisi (Standing) VP Masisi (Standing)

• Opposition candidates worried about the effect of Masisi’s new power and influence

The Moshupa West council elections that will be held next week will be a litmus test for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and its area Member of Parliament Mokgweetsi Masisi to check if his appointment as Vice President can influence the results for the elections.
On Friday the Patriot on Sunday toured the ward to gauge the readiness of the three parties Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who are the incumbent, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change who is the dark horse in the re-run.
Arriving in Moshupa, there was no election hype compared to the 2014 general elections and no sign that elections will be held in the area next weekend. People were just going about their daily business and no one was clad in party colours.
At one of the barber shops we met the BDP candidate Motlhatlosi Kelobang, who was cutting his hair. He asked us to meet him later as he has to go and meet his campaign team. We then went looking for the UDC candidate Abraham Motlogelwa and on the way we parked at a Chibuku depot where some men were gathered and the talk was about the looming elections in their ward.
One of them, who preferred to be called Shakes - a neatly dressed lad - was glad to welcome us, telling us that it is difficult to know who will win the elections.
“You know my brother, Moshupa voters are BDP traditionalists. They might vote for it but the last elections have showed us that things are changing and we might see that next week,” he said, sipping his opaque drink.
His friend, who was putting on a UDC T-shirt, chipped in, noting that the BCP candidate won in 2009 not because of the party but due to his personality.
“He is man of the people and treat people well and has botho that is why he won in 2009 but this time around his party has not done well and it might work against him,” he said.
Asked if they think Masisi’s appointment will have an impact on the elections, they both nodded in agreement but Shakes was quick to add that the youth might not be shaken by his appointment and vote the opposition.
We proceeded to the UDC candidate homestead where we found him having lunch with his campaign team. He said that their campaign is going very well and they are hoping to turn the tables around as they are riding on UDC’s success in the 2014 general elections.
“This ward is very interesting because every day the dynamics change depending on how you conduct house to house campaigns,” said Motlogelwa.
He said that currently they are targeting those who registered but did not vote in the 2014 General Elections, October last year and the youth who are very responsive to their messages.
“We have created a Facebook page, which we use to appeal to the youth and the response is very good,” he said with confidence.
Motlogelwa touched on the burning issue of lack of cooperation between UDC and BCP, noting that they were ready to withdraw and support a BCP candidate but the latter’s approach was very wrong.
“Instead of writing to the party to ask us to support them, they went to rallies and attacked us, saying we do not want to support them,” he said. The youthful UDC candidate said that he is ready and willing to withdraw and back BCP candidate should party leadership request him.
Asked if the endorsement of Masisi as VP will have an impact on the coming council elections, Motlogelwa nodded in agreement, saying it might swing some votes to the BDP.
As we left his compound, Motlogelwa told us that they are expecting Francistown South legislator Wynter Mmolotsi to join them in their campaigns that evening.
He will be launched by party President Duma Boko - who is also the Leader of Opposition in Parliament and he is hopeful that it will boost his chances of snatching the ward from BCP.
BCP council candidate Sethibe Sethibe and his campaign team were on lunch break.
Sethibe, like his counterpart at UDC, said that his campaign is going well but added that the problem is the constant harassment from BDP members.
“Last night they came and put a poster just at the electric pole next to my house and insulted my wife,” said the shy looking Sethibe. He revealed that he has received a lot of support from the party leadership and they were expecting party President Dumelang Saleshando to join them in house to house campaigns.
He said that unlike the other two candidates he has done a lot for the ward as its councillor since 2009 and wants to continue where he has left.
One of the issues that he wants to address is shortage of water in the area and has already spoken to the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) during the last session of the 2014 council session.
Like Motlogelwa, Sethibe acknowledged that the position of Masisi as the number two citizen will have an impact on the council elections.
“Already he is going around telling some youth that if they vote BDP he is going to find them employment and schools for them and most of them are falling for that since they think he is the most powerful person after President Khama,” said the worried BCP candidate.
“We know that it is just a political propaganda but the sad thing is that they believe him,” he said. Finding the house for the BDP candidate was much easier due to a lot of cars parked at his compound. Every yard next to his was decorated with posters depicting an image of President Ian Khama and that of his.
 Kelobang, who was oozing with confidence, said that they are going to snatch the ward with ease as he has done a lot for the ward while he was administrator at the office of the Moshupa-Manyana constituency office.
One of his goals is to encourage parents to play a pivotal role in the education of their children by joining Parent Teachers Association committees and ensuring that they cooperate with teachers.
Another issue is to encourage the youth to utilize government programs that are aimed at empowering them as reports suggest that most youth in Moshupa West did not utilise them. He said that he is going to push the BDP led government programs.
The Moshupa West council elections comes after the BCP and BDP votes tied at 759 while UDC came at distant with 333 votes. The elections will be held next weekend Saturday together with other ones in Ngware and Goodhope.

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