The Botswana Congress Party candidate for the imminent by-election in the Goodhope-Mabule constituency, Comfort Maruping, is confident of a win. The constituency was left leaderless last month when the incumbent, James Mathokgwane, resigned from parliament for a better paying job.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change are expected to field area Paramount Chief Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party is yet to identify a candidate. Maruping was the BCP parliamentary candidate of the constituency in both the 2004 and 2009 general elections but lost to BDP. He did not contest in the last general election in 2014. “I am encouraged by the numbers in the last general election. We are in the race if you consider the fact that put together, our Council candidates, although none won, accumulated more than 3000 votes,” he said. A total of 4000 people voted UDC councillors.
“Mathokgwane had 2700 votes more than the total number that voted his Council candidates and now that he is not standing, there is no guarantee that they will vote the new candidate,” reasoned Maruping. The BCP candidate said he has been getting positive feed-back. Asked whether the fact that Kgosi Lotlaamoreng, the traditional leader of the Barolong tribe is expected to stand does not threaten him he said, “I am unfazed. As Barolong, we respect our chiefs but unlike other tribes, we do not worship them.”
The party secretary general, Kesitegile Gobotswang confirmed in an interview that the BCP had identified Maruping as their candidate.
“We won the Phitshane-Molopo ward in 2004. Unfortunately, the Councillor subsequently died and the BDP won the ward back in the resultant by-election,” he said indicating that the BCP had a presence in the constituency. Like Maruping, he is not perturbed by Kgosi Lotlaamoreng’s candidacy. “His influence is limited to certain areas of the constituency,” he noted. Gobotswang revealed that preparations for the party’s elective congress during the July long weekend in Kanye were well underway. He said the last day for the expression of interest to contest the central committee election was June 20th.
“The party office, in collaboration with the chief election officer is now processing the applications. One of the requirements is that the person seeking party office should have been nominated by at least three constituencies and obviously anybody who will not have been able to meet the thresholds will have fallen off when the names are published in a week or so from now,” said the BCP official. Gobotswang, who said the party is yet to adopt a theme for the congress explained that the main item of the congress will be the central committee election.
They will also discuss their performance in the past general election and adopt a way-forward. The BCP leader does not expect any polarisation to result from the congress. “The issue of opposition cooperation has been discussed at various forums including formal meetings and facebook. What is left is for BCP members to make decisions at the congress. Besides, our success at Moshupa and Bokone wards which we won, might have removed some of the tension that could have formed the basis for conflict,” he said. “Although this is no doubt the most contested congress in the history of the BCP, a good number of those contesting are in leadership positions already, hence we expect civility from everyone,” said the BCP firebrand who is said to be contesting for party Vice President.