Opposition politics have shifted from the capital Gaborone to the capital of the central district, Serowe. Former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama used his influence as paramount chief of Bangwato to lure voters from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the central district. The BDP lost in Serowe for the first time in history this week.
Bangwato had vowed to follow Khama wherever he goes in his political trajectory after he accused President Masisi of destroying his legacy and not treating him well. However the move by Khama also came back to haunt the opposition which he had professed to supporting in the south based constituencies. The cold war been Khama and his successor forced him to form the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) which snatched three Serowe constituencies from the BDP after Wednesday’s elections.
In Serowe West constituency, Tshekedi Khama garnered 4394 votes, followed by BDP parliamentary candidate, Moemedi Dijeng who scooped 2405 votes, followed by Rolent Kambule of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 749 votes; while Leremela Bogosing of Alliance for progressives (AP) managed 387 votes. In Serowe North constituency, the BPF parliamentary candidate, Baratiwa Mathoothe garnered 5394 votes, followed by Kgotla Autlwetse from the BDP with 4356 votes, while the UDC parliamentary candidate, Keaobaka Kgano was voted by 1656 people; independent candidate Ndelu Seretse trailed with 926 votes.
In Serowe South constituency, the BPF parliamentary candidate garnered 4 653 votes, while Lesedi Phuthego of the BDP came second with 4237 votes. Moremi Mareka of the UDC was voted by 2 362 people, followed by AP candidate, Iphemele Kgogkothwane with 393 votes, Prince Moitoi of the BMD with 234. Independent candidates, Oteng Thankane and Ian Khumo got 33 and 247 votes respectively. BPF won four council seats in Serowe West constituency – that is in Serokolwane, Kgosing, Dimajwe and Palamaukuwe wards – and the BDP won 2 council seats in Mmashoro and Malatswai wards.
Three weeks ago Tshekedi Khama dropped a political bomb shell and dumped his father’s party, to join his elder brother, former president Ian Khama at the BPF. BDP candidate, Moemedi Dijeng came late in to the race to save his party. The time factor worked against him because the constituency is vast. Furthermore, since he was facing a member of the Ngwato royal family some viewed him as being rebellious and disrespectful to their chieftainship. He was joining a campaign that has already been soiled because former president Ian Khama had thoroughly de-campaigned the BDP.
Dijeng is the son of a former councillor and council chairman in the same constituency who served at the time Blackbeard was Member of Parliament. Dijeng has also challenged for the chairpersonship of the BDP at the Mmadinare elective congress though not well known within the party; he came third with 69 votes. The contest was history in the making as the constituency has always been the reserve for the BDP and Ngwato Royals for the past 53 years. Tshekedi is the first opposition Member of Parliament to win the constituency and Dijeng is the first BDP parliamentary candidate to lose the constituency.
The first MP for Serowe West constituency was the late Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president and also Tshekedi’s father who handed over to Collen Blackbeard, who later handed it over to Ian Khama who in 2008 handed to his younger brother Tshekedi Khama. Tshekedi has been MP of the constituency since 2008. Gomolemo Motswaledi by then was advised not to challenge Tshekedi in the primaries. In 2009 general elections, Tshekedi garnered 1,869 votes while Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Gagolepe Nthebolang got 119 votes.
Fast forward to 2013, Tshekedi was infuriated when Prince Kgwaneng challenged him in the BDP primaries. He called on the BDP to suspend him on allegations of flouting party rules and regulations. However he sailed through in the primaries garnering 3 081 votes against Kgwaneng. Last year Tshekedi was at it again, suing BDP Central Committee for allowing Dijeng to contest in the primary elections despite the fact that he had been disqualified during the vetting process by the branch committee. Tshekedi lost the case where many felt he will bolt out of the BDP but stayed put. In the primaries Tshekedi won again with 2 , 797 votes while Dijeng managed 1, 594 votes. Rakhudu was distant third with 462 votes.
Tshekedi has been accused by his constituents of neglecting them. Khama had to assist him during BDP primary elections campaigns in some instances. Residents of Dimajwe, Mmashoro, Malatswai complained that Tshekedi doesn’t visit their areas and is less concerned about their welfare. The same concerns were again raised ahead of the 2014 general elections where Khama assured residents that Tshekedi will start consulting them.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.