With the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) out of the picture in the Francistown West by-election, the stalemate over which party should be the main opposition party in parliament could be resolved over the weekend.
Since December 2012 parliament has been without the leader of opposition following the successful toppling of the Botswana Congress Party leader Dumelang Saleshando by Botswana National Front and Botswana Movement for Democracy parliamentarians who had ganged to form Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). UDC and BCP had seven members resulting in a hung opposition. This prompted the speaker of parliament Dr Margaret Nasha to declare the seat of leader of opposition vacant since there were two political parties in parliament (BCP and UDC) with equal number of parliamentarians. The Francistown West by-election now gives the two bitter rivals another opportunity to reclaim the position, and also the bragging rights as the largest opposition party ahead of the 2014 general election.
UDC is represented in the constituency by the Botswana Peoples Party secretary general Shathiso Tambula while the BCP is represented by Dr. Habaudi Hubona. The other contestants are independent candidates Kago Phofuetsile and Joseph Mabutho. Should the BCP win the by-election, Saleshando the party leader would reclaim the position. As for the UDC the party is likely to settle for Abram Kesupile of the BNF.Talking to Botswana Guardian this week BCP spokesperson Taolo Lucas said that though they are looking forward to winning the by-election and ultimately becoming the main opposition in parliament, they are not obsessed with the position. “We understand that even if we get it, it will be for a short time. Nevertheless we will make sure that we use the position for a good use,” he said further adding that the party’s main aim is to attain state power from the BDP not just the leader of opposition position.
For his part UDC’s Motlatsi Molapise said that the party is doing all it can to win the by-election with the purpose of taking over the leader of opposition position. He said following weeks of intense campaigns the party has high hopes of winning the election. “The position will further bolster our position as the main opposition party not only in parliament but in the country,” said Molapise.