The confusion that had engulfed the opposition conglomerate – the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) – over who will represent the party at the Moshupa/Manyana constituency was resolved when Jonathan Tshephang Sethono registered his name with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Friday.
Sethono represents the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Other partners in the UDC being Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) had preferred that BNF candidate who represented the UDC in the 2014 general elections should have been the one representing them.
However, BMD had insisted that they had gentlemanly loaned the area to the BNF in 2014 and hence wanted it back now. When other parties were still agitating for a change BMD moved ahead and set up its campaign machinery in the constituency. This was despite a heated lobbying by BNF to have its member standing.
BMD’s spokesman, Winfred Rasina said on Friday evening that their candidate – Sethono – has officially registered with the IEC to be the official representative for the UDC in the June 16 Moshupa/Manyana constituency by-election. The seat was left vacant by Mokgweetsi Masisi when he ascended to the presidency.
“There was initially confusion but this has been cleared up. This is one of the 14 constituencies that we have been given to manage on behalf of the UDC. We have since given Francistown West to the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), meaning we remain with only 13. Though there was a difference of opinion with regard to whether we shall field a candidate in Moshupa/Manyana, this matter has now been settled and we are confident that we will do well. We have long set up our election machinery in the area and are hard at work to ensure that we do well. In fact as partners in the UDC we have been working very well together where-ever there was an election to contest. This is not about the BMD. As parties we know that the seats belong to the UDC, we are tasked with managing the areas on their behalf,” he said.
It however remains to be seen whether the BNF and BCP diehards in the area who had agitated for their own preferred candidate will now shift to support Sethono, who hails from Manyana. At the height of the bid some BNF members in Moshupa are said to have approached UDC President Duma Boko to intervene in the matter and ensure that the BNF be allowed to represent UDC. Boko is said to have flatly refused to accept such proposal.
His opponent, Masisi’s long term right hand man Karabo Gare defeated four other candidates to win the right to contest the June 16 election. Masisi has promised to join in the campaign to ensure that his party retains the seat.