Long before the ink could dry on the expulsion of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the two main parties remaining in the coalition are already tearing at each other over constituencies which are currently held by the deposed partner.
Highly placed sources within the UDC have revealed that although most of their members are happy with the verdict, which booted out the BMD, the real battle lying ahead is over constituency allocations. Opposition partners, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) are said to be almost already at loggerheads over who will take Gaborone Central and North, Gabane-Mmankgodi, Mogoditshane and Mochudi West constituencies.
In Gaborone North, BCP is said to be pinning their hopes on their 2009 and 2014 parliamentary candidate Motsei Rapelana but BNF in the constituency want a new candidate. In 2014 Haskins Nkaigwa under UDC wrestled the constituency from Keletso Rakhudu of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with 5738 votes against 4109 while Rapelana came a distant third with 3157. “She is a spent force and this constituency has never been BCP strong hold as they have never won it except when the Late Maitshwarelo Dabutha defected in 1998,” said a senior BNF member.
In Mochudi West, some within the BCP want the constituency to be given to them since BNF is in control of Mochudi East. The constituency is currently held by BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole who won it under UDC in 2014 by 8856 votes followed by Unity Dow of BDP who garnered 6085 while Alfred Pilane of BCP came third with 3550. “The real war is over the council wards as some within the two parties were targeting them. The pronouncement by President Duma Boko, that the incumbents will hold on to their seats, has thrown a spanner in the works as we thought we are expelling the BMD with its members,” revealed one BCP member.
Even the BMD is confused by the expulsion verdict. “We are totally confused but anyway it is not our place to know as the decision does not affect us,” said BMD Secretary General Mangole, adding that the part of protecting BMD candidates is not even there in the suspension letter.
Reacting to the verdict, Mangole said they do not recognize the expulsion from the UDC as they feel that it is illegal. “Our National Executive Committee will meet on Sunday to map the way forward,” he said and refused to say if they will approach court to challenge the expulsion.
In the past, Mangole has revealed that they will do anything in their power to ensure that they stay within the UDC and will even take the legal route.
Announcing the expulsion of the BMD from UDC on Thursday, Boko said the UDC leadership met in Francistown on Wednesday to deliberate on the response from the BMD and that within an hour they had decided that the BMD was unfit to be a member of UDC. “They failed to address accusations against them. The party (BMD) has acted against the interests of the UDC. They displayed total disrespect and disregard of UDC leadership, membership and structures. They have an opportunity to appeal in 30 days and their appeal will be handled by a congress if they choose to go ahead with it,” Boko said.