Former Francistown mayor Buti Billy has suffered a devastating blow in his quest to topple the Member of Parliament for Francistown East Phandu Skelemani in the upcoming Botswana Democratic party (BDP) primary elections.
Billy’s team lost all the contested positions in the just ended constituency committee elections over the weekend.
Billy, who is also the Satellite South councillor has declared his interest to challenge Skelemani in the primaries and has already mobilised his ground forces in the constituency, according to sources close to his campaign.
Skelemani, who is also Foreign Affairs minister, had been written off as the likely winner owing to his prolonged absence in the constituency, but his team’s victory is an indication that he may not be a push over after-all.
Skelemani’s busy schedule as minister often takes him away from the constituency, resulting in some people suggesting that he should be removed in favour of someone who has time to attend to the demands of being a people’s representative.
“Billy and company had hoped that they would exploit his [Skelemani] situation to their advantage and oust him. It now appears that the man is fighting back,” commented a BDP source. During the weekend election Skelemani’s sympathiser Roland Morapedi was elected constituency chairman, beating Billy’s organiser Tiny Moagi. Skelemani’s unexpected appearance may have influenced the way people voted, according to a source close to his camp.
Control of the constituency committee is critical, as it puts candidates in good stead for the primaries. Billy’s supporters are adamant that despite the loss their man has made serious groundwork in the constituency. This week, Billy denied that he had a team that he supported. “That’s not true.
Again I haven’t decided yet whether I will stand or not but I will make that decision when the time is right. For now I am not a candidate,” he said. Repeated efforts to talk to Skelemani were unsuccessful.