- “Saleshando must stand in BCP-allocated constituencies”
- BMD will not give away any constituency
- Saleshando says he will engage BMD on the matter
- Time running out on Saleshando as general election approaches
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Dumelang Saleshando will not be given the Maun West constituency on a silver platter, according to sources close to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
The scramble for Maun West constituency is gaining momentum following public announcement by the incumbent area Member of Parliament Kgosi Tawana Moremi that he will be stepping down from politics at the end of his term next year. With no constituency under the BCP readily available for him, Saleshando is mulling at the idea of standing at Maun West but finds himself having to first pass the hurdle of convincing the BMD to ‘donate’ the constituency to him, a request that the BMD seems not ready to accept.
Following Moremi’s announcement, the battle for the constituency was narrowed down to his long-time political rival Reaboka Mbulawa of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the new kid on the block, Moalosi Sebati who is tipped to represent the newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP), a breakaway party from the BMD. Mbulawa has never stopped campaigning even after losing to Moremi in the last general elections of 2014 while BCP candidate George Lubinda seems to have gone into oblivion ever since his poor showing at the 2014 polls where he garnered 2359 votes against Moremi’s 7271 and Mbulawa’s 5335.
At the time of his ascendancy in 2014, Moremi was under the BMD which is part of the UDC and his incumbency therefore automatically gave the constituency to the BMD during the allocation of constituencies in the UDC. With Moremi’s anointed successor, Sebati, now out of the BMD, the party finds itself holding only bragging rights to the constituency but with no substantive or strong candidate to replace Moremi. Apparently, this is what motivated Saleshando to aspire to fill in the gap, with the hope the BMD will look at the bigger picture and not be rigid to want to stick to the UDC agreement on constituency allocation. While Maun West has been allocated to the BMD, Saleshando and his supporters are of the hope the BMD will exercise some gesture of goodwill and comradeship and will give away the constituency to the BCP for the good of the UDC.
Saleshando is racing against time to find a constituency following the alleged refusal by veteran unionist Goretetse Kekgonegile to pave way for him at Maun East, a constituency already allocated to the BCP. The BCP president finds himself in an unfavourable situation that puts him at the mercy of the BMD because even his traditional constituency, Gaborone Central, is now under the BMD after the party snatched it from BCP in the last general elections where Phenyo Butale, then of the BMD, dislodged it from Saleshando. It is believed Saleshando thinks his chances of making it back to parliament depend on him standing at Maun where he hails from or Selebi Phikwe where he grew up and Gaborone where he lives. In Selibe Phikwe, Saleshando can only stand if BCP’s incumbent Dithapelo Keorapetse makes way for him and that is far-fetched. In Gaborone, Saleshando can only stand if BMD or BNF can give him one of their constituencies but none of the two parties seems ready to make way for him.
In an interview this past Sunday, Saleshando confirmed that he is considering standing at Maun West after some UDC members requested him to do so. ‘‘It is a constituency allocated to BMD. I have promised them that I will consider their request. This will include engaging all the UDC partners before deciding on the request,’’ the BCP leader said. Saleshando said he hopes all decisions will be made in the best interest of the UDC and that mutual understanding will prevail.
According to a reliable source, the BMD vows that it will not budge for Saleshando. “The BMD has not given any of its 14 constituencies nor any of its wards to any contracting party. However, it is the prerogative of the BCP to decide on how it handles its UDC constituencies, the BMD has a strong view that Comrade Saleshando should be deployed back to parliament only through any of the constituencies allocated to his party,” stated the source.
BMD President, Sidney Pilane, at the party’s elective congress held in Lobatse in December 2017 was firm in stating that no constituencies would be ceded to any of the UDC partners, insisting that the incumbency model would prevail as it stands.