As Mochudi East Constituents go to the polls tomorrow (Saturday) to elect their new Member of Parliament, the opposition coalition is tipped to have a better chance of reclaiming the constituency. The constituency with eleven (11) Wards has three (3) key wards in Mochudi that are a deciding factor. The eleven wards are Olifant/Ramotlabaki, Malolwane, Bokaa, Boseja South, Boseja Central, Boseja North, Oodi, Matebeleng, Modimo, Sikwane, Mabalane and Mmathubudukwane.
The three Boseja wards have proved to be Botswana National Front (BNF)’s strongholds. BNF a contracting member of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has been given responsibility of the constituency and has fielded Moagi Molebatsi as their preferred candidate. Molebatsi will be up against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s Mpho Moruakgomo and Japhta Radibe who is an independent candidate.
The constituency was won by the UDC in 2014 but last year the area MP, the late Isaac Davids defected with the seat to BDP. Those close to the developments have indicated that the UDC’s loss - if it happens - should be blamed on the BNF leadership which has not been in touch with the rank and file.
Ever since the campaign kickstarted the toxic atmosphere in the BNF Central Committee has hampered the leadership from showing a united force and support for the candidate. Given the numbers from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) a win is expected as the two UDC contracting partners seem to have rekindled their love.
The Bakgatla’s unhealed wounds due to the impasse between government and their Kgosi Kgolo Kgosi Kgafela II could also come in handy for the opposition.
While Vice President Slumber Tsogwane argues that all is well between Bakgatla and government, the ground tells a different story. This has also been one of the opposition’s campaign tools as they remind Bakgatla of what happened to their chief.
Tsogwane who is also former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has told Bakgatla in the constituency not to be derailed by this argument by the opposition that Kgafela has been betrayed. However, one of the BDP campaign team revealed to this publication that their chances of winning the constituency are slim. The member who has been camping in the constituency for almost three weeks indicated that the electorates in the core wards of Mochudi East are not moved as they feel the BDP government has betrayed them.
The BDP activist also decried the lack of presence by BDP leadership who are only now showing face at the last minute this week. The BDP campaign is led by Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Phillip Makgalemele whose team believe necessary support was not rendered on time. This was evident this past weekend when President Mokgweetsi Masisi together with his deputy was launching the BDP candidate as few people turned up.
The BDP has pleaded with Bakgatla not to be deceived by the UDC by using Kgafela’s name. It has since emerged that the constituency is no longer a political but a royal battle. When the BDP is banking on using Kgosi Kgolo’s younger brother Mmusi Kgafela to lure votes, UDC fielded Molebatsi who is in the same regiment as Kgosi Kgafela II. In a recent public rally Mmusi accused the UDC of using his brother’s name to lure votes. The UDC is however not moved on its stance regarding the treatment Kgafela II received at the hands of government. Bakgatla Royals have been at loggerheads over who should take over on behalf of Kgafela II in his absence. Kgafela II had made it clear that he preferred Bana Sekai.
Government has since acceded to his request following lengthy engagement between government and a delegation from Mochudi. The UDC candidate- Molebatsi was part of this delegation.
Last year during a Kgotla gathering where Kgosi Sekai was officially announced, speakers from the delegation indicated that the road and the engagement with government was not an easy one. It was revealed that some members of the royal family including Kgosi Kgafela II younger brothers and some of the uncles made things even worse as they were not cooperative and opted to work with the enemy (government).
Mangana- Kgafela II’s regiment -was said to have been the one that stood the test of time when they did not give up on the enduring journey. When Molebatsi requested permission from Kgafela II to be active in politics and contest under UDC for Mochudi East, Kgafela II is said to have given him his blessing. Member of Parliament for Mochudi West Gilbert Mangole has said that Molebatsi took the lead for Mangana to intervene when government was persecuting Kgosi Kgafela II.
According to the UDC legislator Molebatsi is one of Mangana regiment members who fought the former President Ian Khama’s administration on issues surrounding their Kgosi. He said Kgatleng is at peace because of Molebatsi’s contribution over recognition of Kgosi Sekai as Bakgatla’s Deputy Chief. Mangole revealed that Kgafela II would be addressing a Kgotla meeting in South Africa this Sunday (22nd April) and the best present Bakgatla could give him is to vote for Molebatsi.
According to UDC campaign team, Kgabo (Kgafela II) has made things even a lot easier as the leader still respected by his subjects seems to have been understood to be endorsing Molebatsi to be sent to Parliament.
They however maintain that better still this is still, their constituency and there is no how the BDP could win the constituency from the BNF or the UDC. The tension within the BNF Central Committee is of less worry to the campaign team.
When their candidate was launched this past weekend some of the party leadership among them both their President Advocate Duma Boko and Vice President Dr Prince Dibeela were not in attendance as they were said to be engaged in other activities. The candidate was launched by UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando who is also BCP President.
UDC could also be banking on votes from Alliance for Progressives (AP) which would not be contesting. AP has endorsed Molebatsi and called on its members to vote for him. AP, a breakaway from BMD, has stated through its President Ndaba Gaolathe that it would not field candidates in all the 57 constituencies in 2019 and would be supporting like-minded candidates where it has not fielded a candidate.