With only a few months left until the much-anticipated Botswana Democratic Party primary elections next year, campaigning for Nkange constituency is getting nastier with every passing day.
After losing to incumbent Edwin Batshu in an epic primary election contest leading to the 2009 general elections, former area MP Ambrose Masalila used the official opening of Choppies’ 50th store in Tutume recently, to cast doubts on the political credentials of his successor, portraying him as an incompetent representative who has failed his constituents. Masalila made a public appeal to the minister of youth, sports and culture Shaw Kgathi (present at the ceremony) to “please advise your colleague to push for developments in our sub district.”
Both Kgathi and Batshu are cabinet ministers. Masalila took issue with the fact that a number of development projects, which were earmarked for the area had been frozen. He said it was an irony that while Tutume was among the first in the country to be designated a sub district, the area had nothing to show by way of developments. “Most of the developments in the sub district were already at a planning stage and more than P2 million had already been spent when the projects were put on hold,’’ charged Masalila.
The former minister of local government hinted that if the ruling party was not careful it would lose the constituency to the opposition in the coming elections “because Batswana in this area are not happy. I have nothing against the area MP. All I’m doing is echoing the sentiments of the voters,” Masalila would later say in an interview with Northern Extra. BDP sources in Tutume have hinted that Masalila was part of a cabal of prominent politicians in the constituency who are looking to topple Batshu. The anti-Batshu camp is accusing him of sidelining his constituents in the Tutume area by concentrating on pushing for developments in his own home village of Maitengwe. Sources say the group has already identified a candidate whose name this publication has, to challenge Batshu in Bulela Ditswe. A councillor aligned to Batshu’s camp was not surprised by Masalila’s utterances, adding that the anti-Batshu group was out to discredit him. When asked about the issues raised by his detractors, Batshu said he was equally not surprised at the turn of events. “I don’t expect him [Masalila] to campaign for me.
The man is still bitter after I defeated him in the 2008 BDP primary elections. By the way, the majority of the projects he spoke about are listed in NDP 10, which was drafted at the time he was the area MP,” noted Batshu. Batshu said he suspected that Masalila had omitted to submit most infrastructure developments for inclusion in the plan period deliberately to sabotage him, “because when the drafting of NDP 10 was done, Masalila had already lost the primaries.” ‘’I have been accused of diverting the police station to Maitengwe, but ironically the plan to have the police station where it currently stands was done and agreed upon before I became an MP,” explained Batshu.
The soft-spoken legislator said while he appreciated concerns of underdevelopment in his area, he was well aware of an orchestrated plan to de-campaign him ahead of the primary elections.