Mmegi Online :: Whoever gets to the BCP first will win next election
Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 12:02 pm.
Whoever gets to the BCP first will win next election

Batswana have returned the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to government and they have done it grudgingly. They have given it only 46.5 percent of the popular vote.
By Greg Kelebonye 2014-10-28 17:25:53 Fri 31 Oct 2014, 15:23 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Whoever gets to the BCP first will win next election

However, thanks to Botswana’s first-past-the-pole electoral system, Domi is back in power, having captured 37 of the 57 constituencies.

“This is a clear indication the BDP is on the verge of losing power. Batswana are shifting their allegiance, and the BDP was only saved by the fact the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was not part of the Umbrella,” says political analyst and UB don, Zibani Maundeni.

The BDP is very alive to why it lost so many constituencies to the opposition, and will not just sit and do nothing about it.

Similarly, the opposition – both the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) – know why they lost.

The BCP has said it is yet to make a study of why the voter rejected it, when all indications were that it would win the majority of opposition seats, and perhaps even government.

While the BCP will not readily accept that its failure to be part of the Umbrella has cost the opposition and at least 53.5 percent of Batswana who did not vote for the BDP, it has said it is willing to work  with the UDC.  It is not in doubt that the BCP would cooperate with the Umbrella, were the President to call a snap election today.

The UDC has accepted the fact that the opposition could have done better if the BCP had been part of the Umbrella and its leaders have gone on record to say the party would like to work with the BCP and would welcome any suggestions at working together by and with the BCP.

It is the realisation that the BCP somehow provides a way to winning the next general election that will get both the BDP and the UDC working overtime.

Whoever gets the support of BCP voters wins the next general elections.

“The BDP is aware that should the BCP join the Umbrella, the opposition would win the next elections.  So its strategy would be to destroy the BCP so it does not join the Umbrella,” says Maundeni.

And it is really who gets first to the BCP that will win.

“The UDC must be quick to engage the BCP, because if they don’t do it in time, the BDP will beat them to it.  The UDC should take a quick initiative to incorporate the BCP.  If Khama offers Saleshando a seat, for example, the BCP will die.  It is important to get to the BPC while it is still intact,” he advises.

President Khama in particular, needs to either bring the BCP into the BDP fold or completely destroy it as he ponders a number of possibilities that could spell the end of his government and term. 

Foremost among his contemplations would be the fact that he cannot trust all the 37 BDP Members of Parliament (MP).

They made it crystal clear they would not all support his choice of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Vice President.

That is why he has the Attorney General suing all political parties in Parliament, ostensibly in the hope the court’s decision will lead to reversal of the amendment calling for secret election of these three key positions.

Reliable BDP sources say on Tuesday Khama rounded up BDP MPs and demanded to know from each one of them if they were on his side.

“No one would dare contradict him, so the MPs told him, they would vote the


way he wanted,” said the source.

 Essentially that means the BDP MPs will remove Margaret Nasha as Speaker of the National Assembly, and most likely replace her with Khama’s preferred candidate, Gladys Kokorwe.

Khama, however, has kept everyone guessing who he wants as his deputy. He also has not given any indication who he will include in his cabinet.

That has left the MPs on tenterhooks. Many of them would be hoping for a cabinet appointment, and it is in appointing them to cabinet that Khama can be assured of their support, says Maundeni.

A good number of them, won with very minimal votes, and a UDC-BCP agreement would see them lose the next elections.

“Many of them are likely to cross to the opposition, but they would not leave if Khama appointed them ministers,” says Maundeni.

The combined BCP and UDC vote in some areas had margins as high as 3,000 between the opposition and the BDP.

Such margins are very difficult to close, and all it takes is for the two opposition parties to find common ground.

Another analyst, Dr David Sebudubudu says individual BDP MPs would already be weighing their chances of coming back to Parliament if they remained within the BDP.

“There is no doubt each individual MP is making personal calculation,” he says.

He also believes Khama’s administration will work hard to ensure it stays in power, now and beyond 2019, and will devise strategies to weaken the opposition.

“It is not in doubt that the Khama government will devise tactics to divide the opposition,” he says. 

The urgency of the whole exercise is palpable.

Both the BDP and the opposition in Botswana do not have much time. It is a matter of life and death for the parties.

Any party that missteps is history, and it is how the leadership of the parties behaves that will determine if they win.

President Ian Khama’s attitude to a section of his MPs has already caused consternation within the ruling party.

Could the ongoing court action whose crux is to declare null and void what Parliament – the BDP Parliament – agreed on, be a sign of things to come?

Could it be just the tip of the iceberg of problems that may be lurking within the BDP, problems that could spell its demise?

“President Khama must respect the will of his MPs. If they feel someone should not be appointed to a position, he should not impose his will on them, otherwise the BDP’s five-year mandate could become another story,” says Sebudubudu.

Maundeni concurs: “Khama will have to soften down. He needs to consult with BDP MPs, and allow them to make decisions, and then endorse them.”

A  BDP insider notes the uneasiness within the party is such that further antagonism by the President may cause BDP MPs, especially those in marginal constituencies to move to the UDC.

“I doubt, however, as many as would give the opposition the majority would cross. Doing that would cause the President to call for a snap election and those MPs would not be BDP or UDC members.

Their decamping would disadvantage them. What is likely to happen is that enough MPs will cross to the opposition to make it difficult for the BDP to make certain decisions. Such MPs would also want to campaign in the opposition primaries - and they would need to have been members for several years.”

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