For the democrats who go into what some have dubbed ‘the political silly season,’ the bigger picture is 2018.
President Ian Khama will next year lead his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to the 2014 general election. Should he win the election this will be his second and last term in office. Also he will choose his successor who will take over in 2018 when Khama steps down. And those within his cycle will want the process to be as smooth as possible without opposition from within the party. Hence they want their men and women to be in the next parliament. Section 39 of the Constitution gives the president powers to appoint a Vice President, which appointment shall be endorsed by parliament. And that is why according to sources some in the BDP are being targeted. One such is maverick Member of Parliament for Tonota South (now Tonota) Pono Moatlhodi. Sources say the preferred candidate for the constituency is President Khama’s personal friend-Thapelo Olopeng. “It is all about 2018,” said a source.
In the Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency Khama’s other associate Duke Masilo is being tipped to win against incumbent Mmoloki Raletobana and new entrants; Lesedi Mmusi, Nnanaki Makwinja and Tshepi Chape-Wareus. As the BDP heads for the painful and trying times, undeliverable promises and wild accusations are the order of the day. That is why those who were instrumental in ushering in the Samson Moyo Guma central committee decided on preferential treatment. A source in the North West said this group would be happy to see the likes of party heavyweight Daniel Kwelagobe losing to Shima Monageng who is challenging him in Molepolole South. “They just want to finish him up,” he said. But for Kwelagobe and his group, which supported Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the chairmanship of the party, it’s all about regrouping and recovering from the bruises they suffered in Maun. “The biggest priority for Kwelagobe’s group now is to regroup. And they would like to have as many of their members to win the primary elections,” an insider said.
On Tuesday Tsholetsa House released names of candidates that will contest the party’s primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe. The primary elections will be held either end of October or the first week of November. It will be a case of new faces against the incumbents. One fierce battle is expected in the Tlokweng constituency where incumbent Olebile Gaborone is facing Elijah Katse. This is not the first time the two slug it out. While a Botswana National Front (BNF) member Gaborone beat Katse by a small margin of 17 votes in the 2009 general election. The only change is that this time around they are in the same party and the competition is fiercer. A source told the Botswana Guardian that Gaborone enjoys the support of the branch committee while most BDP councillors in the area support Katse. Ironically, the royal family is said to be supporting Katse instead of Gaborone who is one of their own.Because of factions, the BDP always comes out of Bulela Ditswe a bruised party. Bulela Ditswe’s postmortem is characterised by defections, independent candidates and democrats breaking ranks and failing to support each other. Members who lose during the primary elections usually come up with excuses and accusations of being cheated.
They then leave the party and join the opposition ranks or rather contest the general election as independent Candidates otherwise known here as Mekoko (cockerels). Political analyst at the University of Botswana, Dr. Zibane Maundeni says this is to likely happen, but noted that this will largely depend on whether the party has mechanisms in place to handle disgruntlement and internal conflicts. “If they mismanage the electoral process then you will expect such problems,” he said. But he said all the political parties, which will be holding primary elections will probably face problems. Prior to 2009 the BDP faced the same problem. In Serowe South and Serowe North parliamentary candidates, Tebelelo Seretse and Kgotla Autlwetse, at the time appealed and lost the Bulela Ditswe outcome. The two lost to Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse respectively in the BDP primary elections. Meanwhile, not all will go through the process of Bulela Ditswe. Newcomer, Sadique Kebonang will surely have his posters all over Lobatse against those of the opposition party members as they campaign for the 2014 election. So are Nonofo Molefhi and Reaboka Mbulawa in Selibe Phikwe East and Maun West respectively. There are also a host of newcomers who will be trying their luck in Bulela Ditswe. These include former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Serwalo Tumelo who will face Kefentse Mzwinila, specially elected MP, Gloria Somolokae, and two others.
Opelo Makhandlela-former deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is contesting Selibe Phikwe West against Godfrey Mbaiwa and Kedireng Kepaletswe, Mmopoloki Lewis, Moagisi Lekwapa. Former Radio Botswana presenter who also worked at the Ministry of Trade and Industry Banyana Segwe will face incumbent Odirile Motlhale, Best Mosadi and Lenstwe Monare in Ramotswa. Other political novices are Mooketsi Tosh Kgotlele and Unity Dow who will face off in Mochudi West. One missing name, which has been synonymous with Botswana politics for the past decades, is that of Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe. The latter has long announced his retirement from active politics and he has kept his word.