What has remained constant about the constituency is its high level of poverty and illiteracy relative to the country's economic performance.
In the absence of ideological differences between the Botswana Democratic Party and the Botswana Congress Party, it is issues such as resources, conditions of poverty and literacy levels, the age and gender of the candidates, mobilisation and oratory of the party activists, among other things, that will influence the outcome of the Tonota North by-election in favor of the BDP.
The availability of resources is a critical factor in any election. For any party to contest competitively, it must have a sound communication strategy. For instance, in the case of Tonota North, out of the 12, 680 people who registered to vote in the 2009 general elections, only 8, 878 actually voted. It will require huge manpower and financial resources to reach the 3,602 people who did not go to the polls on October 16th 2009 and motivate them to exercise their right of veto on September 4th.
The arduous task of going through the voters' roll to identify voters in the last election calls for both human and financial resources. Because of the low levels of infrastructural development in the constituency, people travel long distances to service centres.
It will be up to the politicians to provide transport for their potential voters to the service centres in Tutume and Tonota to renew their voter registration cards so that they are legible to vote.
Many people have a home in the main villages, a cattle post and the ploughing fields, making it possible for the potential voter to leave their 'Omang' card either at the fields or cattle post.
Once again, the politician will be required to traverse the rough terrain to assist the potential voter. On account of incumbency, the BDP is better resourced than its competitor, the BCP. Besides the money that may have been obtained secretly from some multinational organisations such as De Beers, according to recent revelations, the BDP gets money from its Members of Parliament and councillors whose numbers are beefed up after the general election through the special election dispensation.
The BDP will use the dire economic situation and lack of information among the voters to their advantage in Tonota North.
According to Dr Dithapelo Keorapetse, a political science lecturer at the University of Botswana, "Where the levels of poverty are high and literacy is low, the BDP will manipulate people by associating themselves as a party with programmes and welfare benefits such as Ipelegeng and Tandabala".
As the incumbent, the BDP government monopolises the distribution of the famine relief goodies, making people feel eternally beholden to the ruling party. People are also told that if they elect an opposition MP, all the developments would stop and the schemes they have been benefiting from will be discontinued.
While the BDP has problems as evidenced by the recent split, the majority in Tonota North might not be aware of this development. This will certainly favour the BDP, which will continue to be viewed by the voters as an invincible party.
Rural constituencies are biased against women candidates. There are very few precedents outside the urban or peri-urban constituencies where women have made it.
Although it is not clear how many youth registered, the youth are potentially a huge constituency and might vote in large numbers because one of them, Fidelis Molao, who is 33 years old is vying for parliament against Dr.Habaudi Hobona who is 63 years old.
The fact that most of the constituency falls within the central district where President Ian Khama is considered a Kgosi might work wonders for the BDP.
A few more of his surprise visits like the recent one to Mosetse might also come in handy for the BDP.