Members of political parties under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) are said to be growing restless as the leadership procrastinates over making a decision regarding constituencies that were vacated by the expelled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). At the center of the problem is the fight for the 14 constituencies which were held by the expelled founding member of UDC, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The fight has pitted Botswana National Front (BNF) and its offshoot Botswana Congress Party (BCP) over key constituencies which the two parties feel are winnable in 2019.
In an interview, Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa said the position of UDC has not changed regarding the 14 constituencies which were held by BMD. “The determination of those constituencies will be made by the UDC National Executive Committee. We will decide how they will be distributed,” he said.
Mohwasa said that no constituency has been allocated to any of the alliance members. While still awaiting the decision of the NEC, members of the BNF and BCP are said to be positioning themselves for the 14 constituencies with some already making inroads.
The political strain is beginning to show in this constituency as BNF is pinning their hopes on former Multi Choice Botswana Chief Executive Officer Billy Sekgororoane to represent the party. On the other side BCP is said to have chosen Dr Mpho Pheko, a University of Botswana lecturer and one of the conveners of the now defunct Job Summit.
Highly placed sources within the BCP have revealed that Dr Pheko has already started campaigning and is adamant that she will do well. “In 2014 BCP came second in the constituency and BNF cannot claim to be popular in the constituency because the constituency was won by BMD and the last time they won it was in 1994 through Michael Dingake,” reasoned a BCP member.
On the other hand, BNF believes that the constituency belongs to them as they have inherited all the constituencies held by BMD and that Sekgororoane will represent the party.“BCP was negotiating with UDC and have been allocated 17 constituencies and cannot now want constituencies held by UDC,” he reasoned.
In 2014 Phenyo Butale of UDC wrestled the constituency from BCP President Dumelang Saleshando by garnering 4601 while the latter garnered 3727 votes. Rupert Hambira of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) came third with 3191 votes while Sidney B. Baitsile got 35 votes. Butale has since joined the Alliance for Progressives (AP), an offshoot of the BMD which was allocated the constituency.
The constituency was allocated to BMD and its President Sidney Pilane was to take on incumbent Haskins Nkaigwa who will be representing the AP against BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi in 2019.
The expulsion of BMD from the colaition has opened political flood gates in the constituency with both BNF and BCP claiming they can do well in the constituency. BCP is said to be putting their trust in their tried and tested party chairperson Motsei Rapelana while BNF members in the constituency want a new candidate from their party. The return of the BNF prodigal son Kagiso Ntime is said to be part of the plan by the BNF to have him represent the party in the constituency.
Ntime, a former youth league president of BNF left the party to join the ruling party, BDP and is currently a nominated councilor in the Gaborone City Council. BNF members in Gaborone North have vowed that they will not accept a BCP member to represent in the constituency.
BCP members on the other hand are arguing that BNF has not done well in the constituency and that in 2014 the coalition won it. It is now fragmented with the expulsion of BMD and break away by AP.
In 2014 UDC won the constituency through BMD with Nkaigwa garnering 5738 votes followed by the then incumbent Keletso Rakhudu who managed 4109 while BCP's Rapelana came third with 3157. In 2009 BDP won the constituency by 3741 followed by BCP represented by Rapelana who got 3498 while BNF came distant from the two with 1234.
This is another political hot potato for UDC and the two former political nemeses now turned allies want it due to the disgruntlement within the ruling party after their primary elections.
BCP want the constituency and are pinning their hopes on their 2014 candidate Phagenyana Phage who got 3150 while UDC’s Godisang Mbwire got 2999 while Moeng Pheto garnering 3120. The incumbent, Vincent Seretse of BDP won the constituency convincingly with 7170 votes.