Mmegi Online :: BDP, UDC raise campaigns bar at Phillip Matante East
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Friday 16 November 2018, 09:22 am.
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BDP, UDC raise campaigns bar at Phillip Matante East

FRANCISTOWN: The Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have heightened their campaigns for the Phillip Matante East billed for April 23.
By Staff Writer Tue 22 Mar 2016, 15:16 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BDP, UDC raise campaigns bar at Phillip Matante East








Both parties have a point to prove. The BDP goes into the elections having defeated a combined opposition at the recent Sekoma ward in the Jwaneng/Mabule constituency, and are determined to send a strong message that the win was no fluke.

On the other hand, the UDC is nursing bruises after losing the ward they have held for over 20 years. In fact the opposition party has made it clear that the loss in Sekoma was a wake up call and is determined to retain the Francistown South constituency ward.

But who really has a chance to triumph at Phillip Matante East?

A hypothetical analysis based on past dynamics shows that the UDC stands a far better chance. The BDP also have an outside chance of winning the by-election.

Firstly figures of the last general elections show that the UDC has numbers to win the election. In the 2014 general elections, the UDC had garnered 554 votes against the BDP’s 418. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which has since signed a deal with UDC to back each other in the by-elections, came in third. The BCP factor totally places the ruling party on a pedestal of winning the elections.

Figures aside, the UDC looks lively in the ward and by extension the Francistown South constituency, since the last general election. In fact, the area MP Wynter Mmolotsi is highly revered in Francistown South so was the late former Phillip Matante councillor Shadreck Nyeku.

In fact Mmolotsi’s funeral scheme for members in the constituency is still very much alive and highly regarded.  The UDC’s hope is heightened by the reality that Mmolotsi is lined up as the campaign manager for the UDC assisted by Tshwaragano ward councillor, Gaone Majere. The Botswana National Front (BNF) has apparently appointed political maverick Pono Moatlhodi to assist as well. The BDP has often been accused of buying votes. It’s most unlikely to be successful at Phillip Matante East.

This is so because most of the people in the ward enjoy financial stability as well as being literate enough to make informed choices and as such they may not be enticed by gifts to vote for the ruling party. The ward also has a sizeable community of government workers, a proven thorn in the flesh in the BDP.

Add the fact that at the weekend primaries, the BDP failed to pull half the number of voters who turned to cast the ballot in the BMD/UDC primary elections.

Put together all these factors may connive against the ruling party. But it is not home and dry for UDC. The coalition appears vulnerable and may fall if they don’t tread carefully.

Firstly, prior to last weekend primaries, there was a lot of infighting among UDC candidates.

Losing candidates Lillian Griesmier and Omphile Mazebedi, as well as their supporters are said to be of the view that the winner of the primary elections Uyapo Nyeku, was imposed on the people by the leadership. Nyeku is the younger brother to the late former city

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mayor, Shadreck.

In fact, Mazebedi and Griesmier also accussed Nyeku (Uyapo) of using party resources to campaign for the primaries.

On the other hand, the BDP looks more united than ever.  Even candidates of the primaries signed a memorandum of understanding that they would support the winner.

BDP campaigns at Phillip Matante have also started in full force. By Tuesday the BDP had already appointed a fully-fledged campaign team and members were on the ground campaigning. Then there is also the Samson Moyo Guma factor. The BDP has chosen Guma as its campaign manager. Guma is a known mobiliser and often gets what he wants. Should the UDC fail to counter him they are likely to lose an election especially that he can also use his financial muscle to support the party activities.

However, Guma may prove to be a liability to the BDP as well. His reputation has taken a knock in recent months. He unceremoniously quit as BDP chairman and has been dogged by allegations of corruption, and his company stands accused in the courts of law. The opposition may use all these dynamics to sway voters into their fold.

Asked about the choice of campaign manager, the BDP Francistown South branch secretary Ford Moiteela said, “Guma has a proven ability to mobilise for an election and is very appealing as an individual.

“He is also from the Francistown region and knows the ward very well which is why we chose him to lead the campaign. We are confident that with a person of his credentials leading a campaign we can beat the opposition convincingly”.

Moiteela said despite the negativity surrounding him, Guma will prove many people wrong. “He is a hardworking person.”

Moiteela said that the UDC is not intact in the ward, which is why they (BDP) fancy their chances at the by-election.  “It is widely known that some UDC primary election candidates were not happy with some events leading to their primaries. We want to capitalise on such divisions to favour us,” he said. Moiteela also said that not all BCP members in Francistown want to support the UDC, a development that may work in favour of the BDP.

Early this week Botswana Movement For Democracy (BMD) Francistown secretary general Gaone Lewanika dismissed talk of infighting within the UDC. “Every primary election has its own problem but we have dealt with all of them effectively.”

Nyeku will contest the elections under the BMD who are party to the UDC. Lewanika further noted that that the UDC has denied reports that the BCP has not started campaigning with their team. He said that although the party is yet to appoint a campaign manager its activists have been working hard on the ground to lure voters to their side.

He said he was not aware that some BCP members are against backing the UDC at the elections. Moreover, Lewanika denied reports that some party leaders backed Nyeku at the primaries, saying this was being  fuelled by their opponents.

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