Mmegi Online :: Why opposition parties lost Mathangwane
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Last Updated
Tuesday 16 October 2018, 17:21 pm.
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Why opposition parties lost Mathangwane

FRANCISTOWN: The three opposition parties that contested and lost the Mathangwane North ward by-election at the weekend have only themselves to blame for the poor showing.
By Staff Writer Wed 17 Oct 2018, 00:02 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Why opposition parties lost Mathangwane








The three parties, which at some stage were involved in cooperation talks, are the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). Whilst the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won convincingly by garnering 295 votes, BCP got 188, BNF and BPP garnered 20 and 19 votes respectively.

Firstly, all the opposition parties have themselves to blame for starting their campaigns late after the death of former area councillor, Gilbert Nkhukhu. Although in some quarters the BDP was blamed for being 'un-African' by starting its campaign immediately after the death of Nkhukhu, it is evident that the move paid dividends in the end. The BDP's early start gave it the necessary edge. The opposition generally took sometime before showing their presence in Mathangwane North, a known BDP stronghold. In the 2004 general election, in Tonota North, the BDP, represented by area MP Baledzi Gaolathe, swept all the council wards.

The BCP was the first opposition party to launch its campaign in Mathangwane, but its rallies were mainly conducted in Sekalaka, which alienated non-Kalanga speaking voters.
Although they came second after the BDP, this is not what they actually wanted.

Although Mathangwane is predominantly Kalanga speaking, there are people from other parts of the country who were not impressed by the predominant use of Sekalaka.
It was even stressed at the last rally that included party president Gilson Saleshando that the candidate should speak Sekalaka only to address a political rally. He obliged, ignoring the fact that many Batswana from other parts of the country were present at the meetings. But for the BCP campaign manager, the only thing that could have worked against them "is a good number of youth who did not register for the elections in 2004".

He was however positive that come 2009, they would "shock

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the popular BDP".The BNF know exactly why they have lost this one. They came late into the race and appeared ill prepared for the contest. From the beginning to the end of their campaigns, they were not united. The main thing that disturbed men on the ground were the questions that were incessantly raised by the villagers who wanted to know if it was really worth their while to vote for the BNF.

The BNF campaign manager, Odirile Kekgathegile, could not hide it in an interview with Mmegi last weekend. He blamed the BNF leadership problems for the lacklustre campaign. "We had difficulties convincing people that all was well in the BNF because we were meeting people who really understood the BNF problems and did not give us a chance," lamented Kekgathegile. He also observed that their endeavours to sell BNF candidate, Jayson Baitshephi, were futile.

He, however, promised that all was not lost as the party would do its best to rally support in Mathangwane. He encouraged party members in the area not to give up. For the BPP, they have themselves to blame for joining the race late. They were also ill prepared and they should never have contested in the first place because they did not have a suitable candidate to start with.

It took the BPP a long time to identify a suitable candidate after the man they had banked on defected to the BCP. They had initially targeted Nature Lefatshe, who disappointed them by joining the BCP when they least expected it.

The party losing candidate, Fanyana Moilwa was identified at the 11th hour. Selling him was another insurmountable task as he was also associated with the BCP. The BPP also did not have a well-defined campaign strategy and their rallies were poorly attended.

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