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BPF to split BDP vote and reduce its victory

In elections where the North Star is looming as a symbol of victory, chances are that the united opposition under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the emergence of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will weaken the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in Botswana’s expansive Central District, as well as in the north, the north-eastern and north-western regions of the country. Staff Writers KEABETSWE NEWEL and SESUPO RANTSIMAKO scan the prospects of the parties and candidates in the running

Francistown East

In 2014, the battle was between the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Buti Honest Billy of the BDP won with a margin of 3818. At BCP, Morgan Moseki came close with 3573 while the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) trailed with 1067. Former Mayor Francistown of Billy should ordinarily have an advantage but he is currently quiet and his campaign is not felt on the ground, party members say. In 2014, the BCP pulled a large crowd but were not a part of the UDC. The BCP now, under UDC, has a better chance. Billy’s tally will be diluted by another former mayor, James Kgalajwe, who has joined the fray under the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). With the backing of former president Ian Khama, Kgalajwe has the resources to campaign.

PREDICTION: Kgalajwe will split the BDP vote, which will give Moseki (UDC) an advantage.

Francistown South

Here seasoned politician Wynter Mmolotsi of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) is unmarked. He is a very strong candidate on the ground and undoubtedly the electorate prefer him. Then under the UDC in 2014, he scored 5261 votes, thrashing the BDP’s Sylvia Muzila who got 3289. At BCP, Vain Mamela garnered 1511 votes in 2014.
PREDICTION: The AP has an advantage in this area.

Francistown West

This is Mokwaledi Ignatius Moswaane’s stronghold. He is the darling of the constituents. You go to the shebeens, you find him. He is good at associating and associating with his people and they treat like him one of their own. In 2014 he scored 5304 votes for the BDP. At BCP, Habaudi Hubona was voted for by 3461 people. Shatiso Tambula of the UDC got 950 while Independent, Joseph Mabutho, got 157.

PREDICTION: The BDP will retain this one.

Boteti East

In 2014, more than 60 percent of the voters chose Sethomo Lelatisitswe of the BDP. His margin was three times bigger than all other candidates combined. He had 5530 votes. The BCP’s Daisy Bathusi had 1143 votes while the UDC’s Petrus Mokgalo had 1938. Independents King Disana and Morutegi Pelekekae got 82 and 35 respectively. The UDC is at loggerheads over whether to field a BPP or BCP candidate.

PREDICTION: Lelatisitswe has the best chance.

Boteti West

In 2014, Vice President (VP) Slumber Tsogwane won by a slim margin. His votes were 5790. The UDC’s Sam Digwa garnered 5549 while the BCP then got 622. Digwa’s campaign is hot on the ground. Constituents, especially in Rakops, are against Tsogwane. They feel that Tsogwane neglected them and brought no development projects to the village. In the constituency, challenges like unavailability of water still persist. Khama has thrown his full weight behind Digwa and has publicly announced that he will support him.

PREDICTION: BDP members who follow Khama will vote for Digwa, giving him an edge over Tsogwane.

Lerala/Maunatlala

The BDP was going to easily win this constituency under Prince Maele, who is a very strong candidate in that constituency. Maele has since chosen to contest as an independent candidate after his expulsion from the BDP. Before his expulsion, he thrashed Jezebel Sethabelo Modukanele by 3507 against 3351 at the BDP primaries. While the area is a BDP stronghold, Modukanele does not command as much following as Maele. Modukanele stood as an independent in 2014 but lost to Maele. Maele garnered 6356 then while Modukanele had 4115 votes. Modukanele will suffer from the split vote. Some BDP members who are followers of Maele will vote for Maele, reducing the BDP’s chances. Maele is in good terms with Khama, but the BPF has given independent candidates up to July 31 to have joined the BPF, failing which the BPF will decampaign them. Maele is yet to decide. Should he stay independent, Khama could decampaign him.

PREDICTION: Despite that, Maele stands a better chance against the BDP and the UDC’s Kabo Ketshogile . Ketshogile is a weak candidate in that area.

Maun East

A tight contest will be between incumbent MP Kostantinos Markus and Goretetse Kekgonegile of the BCP, an affiliate of the UDC. In 2014, the BDP won with 6046 while the BCP followed with 5304 votes. The BCP’s advantage is that it is now under the UDC which garnered 2062 votes through Osimilwe Fish, then under the UDC. The UDC’s combined vote (of BNF, BCP and BPP) could easily topple the BDP. BCP is naturally strong in that area. In 2014, it lost because of lack of affiliation to the UDC.

PREDICTION: In this case, the UDC stands a better chance to win.

Maun West

The battle for Maun West will be between two heavyweights, UDC vice president Dumelang Saleshando and Maun businessman Reaboka Mbulawa of the BDP. This will be a very tight contest. The BCP is strong in that constituency. That the BCP president is himself running there has given the UDC added mileage. The UDC filled the stadium to capacity when launching their manifesto. It was a deliberately aimed at cementing Saleshando’s presence in the area. But he will not have it easy because the BDP’s Mbulawa is also a very strong candidate who commands a lot of followers on the ground. As a businessman, he claims to employ more than 100 people in the area. But the area has been under the UDC. In 2014, Tawana Moremi won with 7271 votes under the UDC ticket. Mbulawa garnered 5335 votes while the BCP had 2359 votes.

PREDICTION: Given that the two are both strong, the vote can go either way.

Tati East

This has been a BDP stronghold but expulsion of incumbent MP Samson Moyo Guma from the party has changed the dynamics. Guma, who is in self-styled exile in South Africa, has been replaced by Dr Douglas Letsholathebe. Guma’s expulsion has brought divisions and internal bickering within the BDP, leaving UDC candidate Mathodi Modisapodi as the ‘unsullied’ option.

Some BDP members have resolved to support Modisapodi who dumped the BDP in protest over primary election results and joined the UDC where she was declared the candidate. She also enjoys the support of some BDP members. BPF candidate Tshwenyego Mbise has also increased the BDP’s woes because of vote splitting, giving the UDC a better chance.

PREDICTION: Though the Alliance for Progressives (AP) recently joined the race, it has no chance at all. Previously the constituency was won by the BDP with 5864 ahead of the UDC and BCP which garnered 2324 and 1512 votes respectively.

Sefhare/Ramokgonami

The area is currently under the BDP. In 2014, Dorcas Makgatho of the BDP walloped Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang of the BCP with a margin of 1552 votes. Personally Makgato has a following in the constituency. However, Khama and the BPF’s de-campaigning Makgato could lead to a split vote. This will work in favour of Dr Gobotswang. Now that the BCP is within the UDC coalition, it is possible that Dr Gobotswang will get more votes. Nevertheless, Makgatho is still strong.

PREDICTION: Any of the two could win.

Tonota Constituency

Thapelo Olopeng faces former MP Pono Moatlhodi who quit the BDP for the UDC. Olopeng garnered 7018 while Moatlhodi (UDC), the BCP and an independent candidate followed with 5179, 475 and 128 respectively. Olopeng was popularised by his cabinet post, especially during his tenure at the youth ministry. Through giving to the needy, he has captured the hearts of his constituents.

PREDICTION: Olopeng stands a better chance to win.

Tati West

The massive campaign launched by BDP Youth League (BDYL) president Simon Moabi immediately after winning primary elections has given him a better chance of snatching the constituency. His campaigning has subdued his UDC opponent Tshepho Makhani. In 2014 the constituency was won by Biggie Butale who has since decamped to the BPF after he was beaten in the primaries. However, the youthful BDP candidate commands a lot of appeal among young people. Butale will contest under the BPF ticket and will split vote with Moabi, giving advantage to the UDC. In the last elections the BDP won with a margin of 1004 votes, followed by the UDC with 3506, the BCP with 1677 while the independent candidate registered 819 votes.

PREDICTION: The BDP will suffer from split vote. So it will either be the BDP of UDC.

Selibe-Phikwe West

After wrestling the constituency in 2014 general elections under the BCP with 4247 votes against 3187 for the BDP and 1225 for the UDC, youthful Dithapelo Keorapetse went on to become a force to reckon with in Parliament. His immense contribution to parliamentary debates and advocacy for Selibe-Phikwe, especially after the closure of BCL Mine, has made him the darling of the town.

PREDICTION: Keorapetse could easily knock out the BDP’s Allen Lekwape and the Alliance for Progressives’ (AP) Maxwell Mosinyi.

Shashe West

Despite criticism of shortage of water here and dilapidated roads, incumbent MP Fidelis Molao is favoured to retain the constituency. Molao is facing the UDC and new entrants in the AP.
From the 2014 huge margin of 3802, the BDP stands a better chance to retain the constituency.

Selibe-Phikwe East

Though the constituency was previously won by the Nonofo Molefhi with 3376 votes against 3134 for the BCP’s Kgoberego Nkawana, the closure of BCL Mine has negatively affected the party’s popularity, leaving the UDC as favourites. Further, inclusion of the BCP in the opposition coalition has given the UDC a better chance to close the 2014 slim margin of 242 votes. The united opposition is using the closure of the mine as a campaign tool and has won the hearts of the aggrieved miners and the Selibe-Phikwe community who will not forgive the government for closing the mine.

PREDICTION: Victory could either go to the UDC or the BDP

Shoshong

The battle is still between incumbent MP Phillip Makgalemele of the BDP and Aubrey Lesaso of the the UDC. The BDP’s previous winning margin was not too wide. In 2014 Makgalemele became victorious after garnering 5377 votes ahead of the UDC 4429 while the BCP and an independent candidate registered 413 and 244 respectively.

PREDICTION: The BDP has an upper hand.

Nata/Gweta

The BDP’s Polson Majaga is very strong in this area, and makes a considerable effort to remain close to the voters. Majaga is facing a little known UDC candidate who is a former teacher named Tirelo Ketlhoilwe. Majaga previously won with a slim margin of 470 votes, beating then BCP candidate Ditiro Majadibodu who has since defected to the BDP.

PREDICTION: The BDP will retain the constituency.

Palapye

A BDP dominated constituency where Moiseraele Goya in 2014 polled 6771 votes followed by the BCP with 4732. But given the defections of multitudes after 2014 from the BDP to the BCP, Goya is likely to face stiff competition from the UDC.

The arrival of AP candidate Gape Motswaledi, who also has a considerable following, will make things difficult for the BDP.

PREDICTION: This is a tight race, considering rumours that the BPF intends to field a candidate in the constituency.

Nkange

The UDC candidate Dr Never Tshabang has made inroads. The united opposition coalition could help him to close the previous margin of 587 votes. In 2014 the battle was between former cabinet minister Edwin Batshu and Tshabang who ran under the BCP ticket. Batshu won by 6461 votes ahead of Tshabang’s 5874 of and an Independent’s with 358 votes. However, this time around Tshabang is facing BDP candidate Ishamael Mokgethi and the AP’s Nyalalani Edson Otto, who is seen as a spoiler.

PREDICTION: This is a close contest but the constituency is likely to go either way between the BDP and the UDC.

Mmadinare

The previous numbers tallied by the incumbent MP Kefentse Mzwinila against BCP candidate Christopher Motsholapheko proved that the constituency remains a BDP stronghold. Mzwinila registered 7325 votes against the BCP’s mere 3117. Indications are that in 2019 BDP candidate Molebatsi Molebatsi will still win easily to retain the constituency.

PREDICTION: The UDC and the AP do not pose any threat to the BDP here.

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