Mmegi Online :: Regionalism could decide BDP Tonota primaries winner
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Last Updated
Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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Regionalism could decide BDP Tonota primaries winner

FRANCISTOWN: Regionalism is likely to be the main determinant of the winner of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) July 24 'Bulela Ditswe' primaries in the Tonota North constituency.
By Staff Writer Mon 19 Nov 2018, 08:05 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Regionalism could decide BDP Tonota primaries winner








Tonota North has been divided into three regions which are set to compete for control of the constituency. Until the passing on of the area MP, Baledzi Gaolathe, Tonota North has been regarded as a safe haven for the ruling party. This could be the reason why six candidates are vying for the party ticket.

Former BDP deputy executive secretary and ex-Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) executive director, Fidelis Molao, and his brother-in-law, businessman, Ipuseng Chikanda, find themselves battling from one corner.

They are both from the Mathangwane/Hubona/Makobo and Chadibe/Borolong/Natale and Jamataka villages, which form one region.

Former assistant minister and ex-Nata-Gweta MP, Olifant Mfa, ex-councillor Molomo Ali Maano and businessman, Onkabetse Daniel, slug it out from the Sebina/Nshakazhogwe/Marobela villages, which form another region.

The retired deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Lewis Malikongwa, will do battle from the Marapong/Semitwe/Mokubilo villages, forming another region which also includes a good number of cattle posts.

The background to the BDP primaries provides another insight into the real battle for control of the Tonota North constituency whose date is yet to be set.

In the 2009 general election, the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) won three wards out of a total of 10 contested wards, with the rest of the wards captured by the BDP. The BDP later nominated two more councillors to beef up their numbers.

In Mathangwane, Sebina/Marobela, Chadibe, Borolong, Jamataka villages, the story is that the BDP lost Mathangwane North and South wards to the BCP "because the party council candidates Chikanda and Ookame Ntobedzi had personality clashes with the constituents".

Their main offences it is claimed, were that "they were aloof, pompous and generally not approachable".

At the Sebina South Ward, circumstances that led to the loss of the BDP candidate, Kemmonye Amon, were reportedly that he was de-campaigned by the man he had ousted in the party primaries.

He had unseated the ward councillor at the party primaries, only to fail at the general elections because odds were reportedly stacked against him.

Going back to the purported issue of regionalism. There is massive evidence on the ground that there will be a serious contest in the region of Mathangwane/Hubona/Makobo, which also includes Chadibe/Borolong/Natale and Jamataka villages.

Molao and Chikanda slug it out here for the BDP ticket. Besides that, this is a party affair, it has also interestingly assumed the shape of a family affair. To those in the know, there is likelihood that at the end of this bruising battle, there will be a casualty.

The other region where a bare-knuckled fight pits Mfa, Maano and Daniel is in the Sebina/Nshakazhogwe/Marobela villages. This is one region, which must not be taken lightly as it is set to develop a lot of political patterns in the end.

The retired civil servant, Malikongwa from the Marapong/Semitwe/Mokubilo villages is not marked, as he is the sole contestant in his region.

Although it sounds simplistic, it does seem reasonable to suggest that in regions where there is more than one contestant, there is a danger of vote splitting.

Take for instance, the competition between Molao and Chikanda. Although the duo's area of interest is the entire constituency, their home base remains Mathangwane, by birthright. They are mostly endeared to their home supporters here than at any other area in the entire Tonota North. They are hoping to perform very well in their home base before they can even expect anything to come from other regions. It goes without saying therefore, that at the end of the day, they will have to share the spoils, for good or bad.

The same applies to Mfa, Maano and Daniel in the Sebina/Nshakazhogwe/Marobela villages' bloc. Although they are contesting in the entire constituency, obviously they are banking more on their home support than anything.

The number of contestants speaks volumes about the gravity

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of the contest itself. It seems nothing will be left to chance here as all the contestants have promised to give their very best and take the challenges associated with the political game here seriously. At the Marapong/Mokubilo/Semitwe region, Malikongwa will have the ball to himself and he will probably be only worried by villages outside his region.

As the sole contestant from his region, he will be the only 'son of the soil' appealing for support from his home supporters. His work might be simplified by the fact that he will only have villages outside his home village to worry about.

This does not however, suggest that other contestants will be locked outside Malikongwa's area. He might find the going a bit tough because he will not easily gauge his performance from his home base and those familiar with the territory might pull the rug from under his feet.

By design, the regional contests are fashioned out in such a manner that in exception of Marapong/Mokubilo/Semitwe region, there is more than one contestant, in the other regions, which could be an obvious recipe for an easy elimination from the race.

Sebina/Nshakazhogwe/Marobela has three contestants, which makes it an obvious candidate for splitting of votes from the home ground if the battle will be fought and won through the regional set up. Equally, for Molao and his brother-in-law Chikanda, they are obviously going to split votes from their region, which could spoil their party.

If a winner is going to come from the above two regions with two and three candidates respectively, then it means the winner will have to amass big numbers.

With his experience as the former regional chairman and having served at Tsholetsa House-the BDP headquarters, Molao concedes, "the battle for the BDP ticket is likely to be fought along regional lines."

He knows very well that all the candidates are going to pin their hopes on their home villages over and above looking at the entire constituency.

But Mfa, Malikongwa and Daniel hold a differing view. They see no regional fight emerging. "I am not looking at any region but my hopes are on the entire constituency where I will continue doing battle to gain ground," said Mfa who indicated that since he was given a go ahead to contest, he was doing the legwork.

Raising similar sentiments was Malikongwa who feels that the battle will be lost and won in the entire constituency and not from any corner.

"I am in Mmeya cattlepost doing door-to-door campaigns which I feel will take me to the entire constituency and not necessarily keeping me to my home village as you suggest," said Malikongwa.

Daniel, who has just started his door-to-door campaigns, had his eyes set on the entire constituency and not any region. The BDP executive secretary, Dr. Comma Serema says the number of contestants is not unusual and as such there is nothing to worry about.

"There is no limit as to how many people should contest and it's not the first time to have six people in the race" he said and noted that the BDP has no threshold.

University of Botswana (UB) social work lecturer and political commentator, Log Raditlhokwa admits that the Tonota North primaries are a tricky affair.

"The BDP has always been rocked by factionalism and something is telling me that out of this number of contestants, some might pull out of the race may be because they are there for the purpose of marking others," analyses Raditlhokwa.

He reasons that there could be some underground manouvres that could possibly emerge in the end.

"Anything can happen and we better watch the developments as the whole thing continues to unfold.

We cannot rule out a possibility of some people dropping from the race for various reasons including joining forces with others".

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