The recent decision by leader of the coalition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko of swapping council candidates at Ditladi and Matshelagabedi wards in Tati East constituency has angered Botswana People’s Party (BPP).
Boko held a meeting at Thapama Hotel in Francistown in an effort to solve the impasse surrounding ward allocations in Francistown and surrounding areas. Apparently, UDC candidate in Tati East constituency, Mathodi Modisapodi had informed Boko that some of her council candidates are weak and she does not have the confidence that they will win the wards. She allegedly pleaded with Boko to swap such candidates being Leonard Mantswe and another one known as Smvula. The two wards were then given to BNF and BCP respectively.
Such a move has ruffled feathers within some of the BPP leadership as they feel undermined by their coalition partners. BPP Secretary General, Ventor Galetshabiwe did not hide his disappointment during an interview with The Patriot on Sunday. “Our knowledge was that Boko came to Francistown to offer counselling to those that did not get wards in Francistown West as a way of promoting unity within the alliance. Swapping of candidates in Tati East was not part of the agenda of the meeting,” he charged. Galetshabiwe reiterated that they are the leading party in Tati East so they are the ones who have to take decisions as to who contest in the wards. According to Galetshabiwe, there is a 60-40 policy within the coalition which has to be followed when allocating wards in all the constituencies but it seems like the policy is only applied in constituencies allocated to BPP. “We are not amused by the decisions taken by Boko as the coalition leader. We strongly belief that our alliance partners are looking down upon us,” he further held.
Galetshabiwe noted that the party will take punitive actions against their two parliamentary candidates who influenced such decisions to be taken for their own selfish interests. In Francistown West constituency, the BPP spokesperson revealed that they were shocked to learn that they will only be given two wards being Botsalano and Tati Town. He says they were told that in Tati Town, they will be represented by a BCP activist, Beard Maja. The verdict means that BCP’s Odirile Gavu will have to step down and make way for a BPP member. Galetshabiwe reasoned that, to their knowledge they had to take three wards in Francistown West while BCP also take three remaining wards. Sources claim that BPP wanted to get Kanana ward which is currently given to BCP’s Keletso Nyambe. According to Galetshabiwe, BCP has a big brother mentality as it wants to get majority of wards while side-lining other partners. Furthermore, Galetshabiwe averred that they had requested to be given some wards in constituencies in Selebi Phikwe but their plea was turned down.
UDC parliamentary candidate in Francistown West who is also BPP vice president, Mbaakanyi Lenyatso dismissed allegations levelled against him. Lenyatso underscored that the BPP central committee has not met to release a statement about ward allocations in Francistown West adding that those that say they are not happy; they are just stating their personal opinions. He is of the view that the notion that he had an influence on ward allocations in Francistown West is baseless and not true. "I did not have an input on which wards were allocated to the BPP, I just attended the meeting as a UDC candidate,” he explained. Lenyatso buttressed that BPP never presented Kanana ward as one of the wards they wanted. He opines that the party wanted Botsalano, Tati Town and Monarch North during the negotiations. Lenyatso implored his fellow BPP leaders to put first the interests of the UDC so that the tripartite party coalition can wrestle power from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the upcoming general elections. He confidently said no one within the BPP leadership has the powers to recall him as the UDC candidate adding that only Boko has been bestowed with such powers.