The race to replace the late Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Tshelang Masisi has taken a dramatic twist as the name of Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo crops in.
Masisi succumbed to a long illness two weeks ago and was buried in Moshupa over the weekend. Northern Extra learns that scores of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members are hatching a plan to replace Masisi with Matambo. Sources say those rooting for the finance minister have support from the party leadership. While the party has closed nominations for candidates to contest the party primaries, a Francistown West bye-election is tempting many within the BDP who fancy the chance to become legislators in 2014. “BDP constitution is silent on what happens when a seating MP passes on while dates for primaries have been closed. They might call for other democrats to express interest in the race who might not have registered for the November election,’’ said a source.
Section 13(b) of the party consitution is also ambigious: “Notwithstanding anything-contained in these regulations, the Central Committee may, where necessary, nominate a candidate in any constituency or ward where an election is imminent and the modus operandi as laid down is unworkable for any reason whatsoever.’’ According to the source, one of the reasons that some party members want Matambo is the instability within the constituency fuelled by the fight between Ignatius Moswaane’s and Angelina Dingalo’s supporters who are both interested in the constituency.
Northern Extra is reliably informed that the fight between the rival candidates may compel the Central Committee to consider a different candidate as the squabbling BDP rivals may focus too much on fighting at the expense of losing the constituency to the opposition. Matambo is considered neutral and has sufficient political clout as cabinet minister.
Matambo was nominated specially elected MP in 2010 and Minister of Finance and Development Planning following the death of trade minister, Baledzi Gaolathe. Matambo was once linked to Tonota North constituency where he was expected to challenge Fidelis Molao, but is said to have gone back on the decision. Should he get the party’s nod and blessing, Matambo won’t have it easy as he will face the diehard Moswaane in the primaries. Dingalo, Whyte Marobela and Kago Phufoetsile are regarded as darkhorses in the race while the late Masisi and Moswaane were in pole position. Contacted for comment, the chairperson for Francistown West Laeza Magusu said that she is not aware that some BDP member in the constituency prefer Matambo.
“We are still mourning the death of our MP and the BDP leadership has not informed us about any new developments.’’ Magusu denied that there is division in the constituency and blamed some people for trying to sow seeds of discontent in Francistown West. Matambo said that he is not aware that some people in Francistown West want him to contest the bye- election in the constituency. Asked if he would consider it if approached, “I cannot comment on that at the moment.’’ Mathambo will not be the first specially elected MP to contest the party primaries as the former minister of Health Professor Sheila Tlou tried in 2008 against Moiseraela Goya and lost.