As the general election draws nearer, political parties in Shoshong, Mahalapye East and West are busy preparing candidates for the final showdown expected in October next year.
However it seems more political bloodshed will be inside the Botswana Democratic Party than any other political party. Opposition in the areas has been evidently weak. That is because the candidate who normally wins inside the BDP has always received a predictably possible win in the general election for the areas.
When former vice president Lt. General Mompati Merafhe who was Member of Parliament for Mahalapye West retired, a lot of young politicians showed interest to fill in the boots of the long serving MP who had taken over from the BDP’s Gaolese Koma (brother to BNF Dr Kenneth Koma) in 1994. Bernard Bolele’s efforts within the BDP to take on Merafhe were infantile in the first attempt. Towards the 2004 general election Merafhe taught the young boy in Bolele a lesson when he made the BDP primaries a no show harassing Bolele by 2775 to only 704 of the young lawyer. This was even after one candidate in the race Modise Malaakgosi withdrew and backed Bolele. After Merafhe left the scene the area became a two horse race between Bernard Bolele and councillor Moatshe Senai although there were other hopefuls. Bolele won the BDP primary election on September 15 last year in the area beating Senai with 1787 votes to 1024. It has not been long since the bye-election and the political dynamics have also not changed which gives Bolele a nod. However the primary election’s names passed to this paper by Executive Secretary Lee Lesetedi show that Senai has withdrawn from the race. Only one Joseph Molefe will take on Bolele.
After the results of the 2002 Delimitation Commission a new constituency was born. That was to be called Mahalapye East. The constituency here used to be known only as Mahalapye. The two constituencies are divided by the Gaborone/Francistown road. Mahalapye East covers some small settlements in the eastern side of Mahalapye such as Makwate, Taupye, Mmaphashala, Mokoswane, Pallaroad, Kudumatse and Mookane. From the word go former councillor Botlogile Tshireletso now Assistant minister in the ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has ruled the constituency ever since winning primaries towards both 2004 and 2009 elections. Before, Tshireletso had competition from other rising democrats but later whitewashed them. Former Sales manager at Bolux Milling Lazarus Lekgoanyana and ex-commissioner Joseph Orebotse and one Eddie Norman were some of her challengers. Lekgoanyana has served as the president of Student Representative Council (SRC) during his time at the University of Botswana though under the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) folds. At the moment the primary election in the area show that Tshireletso will face a challenge from Lekoanyana again, Magowe Neo, Ernest Nthobelang and Edward Moganana.
This is another BDP stronghold. After long serving Member of Parliament for the area Modibedi Robi lost and Duke Lefhoko took the baton. Lefhoko was later appointed assistant minister of Trade and Industry when he got to the National Assembly. Lefhoko lost the BDP primaries towards the last general election in 2008 to former Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Phillip Makgalemele. Makgalemele caught Lefhoko off guard as many thought he would not win as he was already losing grip at the BFA. He got 1268 while Lefhoko managed 1235. Robi was embarrassed to the ashes when he took a mere 36 votes. Another candidate then Kekwaletswe Keoletile got 382 votes. When the offshoot of the ruling BDP, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was formed Makgalemele defected to the fashionable party. He was later bound by pressure from his constituency to bounce back to the BDP. There were strong allegations that he was losing support within the area from his democrats and the only option was to re-trace his steps to save his seat in parliament. Other reports obviously said he was ‘bought-back’. But again it remains to be seen whether Makgalemele still has the loyalty among the voters in the BDP more especially that Lefhoko has come back to reclaim ‘his’ constituency. Lefhoko, a darling among the ruling elites, was rewarded with an ambassadorial post to Namibia after he lost the elections. The BDP primaries in the area will now see Makgalemele locking horns with Lefhoko. Robi will also prove to both gentlemen that neither of them deserves the constituency that has been his for a long time. Another name in the race is one Tibe Tibe.