Mmegi Online :: New party: Russian roulette or cold blood ‘political murder’
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Wednesday 22 May 2019, 19:50 pm.
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New party: Russian roulette or cold blood ‘political murder’

It is likely to take several years, or even more than a decade for the Ndaba Gaolathe and Co.’s new party to encrypt itself in the minds of disgruntled voters who are thirsty for a united opposition. Mmegi staff writers BAME PIET and TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE unpack the history of the struggle that comes with new parties in Botswana
By Bame Piet Tsaone Basimanebotlhe Fri 15 Sep 2017, 13:42 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: New party: Russian roulette or cold blood ‘political murder’








With rumours swelling around the formation of a new party before 2019 general elections, all evidence show that the possibilities that will accompany the new baby will definitely come with serious casualties for many.

Mob psychology is one of the things that have destroyed many people’s dreams because life-changing decisions were made under the influence of the prevailing situations regardless of one’s circumstances. People have found themselves participating in violent strikes, mob justice, downing of tools, and other spur-of-the- moment activities even though they personally do not agree with the concepts.

The new party is definitely one of the examples of mob psychology, where alternatives are often ignored to satisfy one or two most influential figures in the group.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was formed in 1998 under an atmosphere of anger at the leadership of Botswana National Front (BNF) of the time. The BNF had just performed well in the 1994 elections, garnering a total of 13 Members of Parliament (MPs) and power was smelling invitingly somewhere in the horizon and the beneficiaries were none other than the new BNF members, at least in their minds. The best way was to defy the leadership and go solo to get this power, the power that never came to this day.

Many of the MPs who left to form the BCP did not make it back to Parliament in subsequent elections of 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014. Only one of the founding MPs of the BCP made it back to Parliament under the party ticket.

In 2004, again the BCP had one MP in Dumelang Saleshando who had to shout as loud as possible in Parliament to make the public aware of the existence of the party. The strategy worked and the BCP experienced growth and registered three more MPs in the 2009 general elections.

Just when the party was promising to make more gains in the 2014 elections, 18 years after its formation, some influential members preferred to go solo outside the UDC informed by what seemed like a steady growth of the party. Like their founding members, the BCP could see and feel that state power was inches away. The party adopted the slogan ‘Ready to Lead’ because they thought the road to State House had been paved and all they needed was to traipse their way through the gates of the Presidential residence.

The consequences were catastrophic. The BCP registered only three MPs from the 2014 general elections, a drop from the previous election, although the popular vote increased. The voices from many quarters were clear that ‘We want a united opposition’.

The party nearly crumbled after the 2014 general elections when some key members left to join other parties including the BDP. So how many years will it take the Ndaba Gaolathe and Co. to form a new party and convince the voter that they are the right candidates for state power? Why should the voters not punish the new party?

Although many MPs have not yet declared their interest in the new party, below are some of the constituencies that may be under threat once incumbent MPs join the new party

 

Gaolathe (Gaborone Bonnington South)

Not much was known about Ndaba Gaolathe until he emerged as candidate for Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. Whilst he is praised as a brilliant economist, he is seemingly not the type that can survive freedom square politics.

Even in Parliament, Gaolathe is too soft for the debates and the rough riders who have characterised our National Assembly for so many years. Those close to the BMD allege that Gaolathe was not at the first meeting of the party when it was formed in Mogoditshane in April 2010. His chances of making it to Parliament are slim since he is likely to face Botsalo Ntuane for a second time, under a new and rejuvenated Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Gaolathe – 7,694

Ntuane – 3,597

BCP – 1,318

 

Dr Phenyo Butale  (Gaborone Central)

The Gaborone Central

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MP was brought in last minute to stand in the constituency that had been under BDP for two terms. He was brought in to stand against Dumelang Saleshando after the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi.

Emotions were high at the time following BCP’s choice not to be part of the UDC, and the death of Motswaledi, which nearly sparked violent protests in Gaborone. Butale was working in South Africa at the time. He does not have a track record of political activism except that he was renowned journalist at state-owned Botswana Television.

Should he go with the new party, he would be giving way for Dumelang Saleshando who will smoothly go back to Parliament under UDC. He will have to weigh his options carefully before taking himself to the slaughter, for voters are very clever and observant.

Butale – 4,601

Saleshando – 3,727

Hambira - 3191

 

Sedirwa Kgoroba (Mogoditshane)

Best known as ‘Chilli’ in Mogoditshane, Kgoroba’s margin against another Chilli or rather, Chilliboy Rakgare was not convincing.  Those close to the MP say he struggled to sleep on the night of elections and counting.

The MP was at some point accused of throwing a plastic bottle at a fellow MP in the House after a heated exchange. This was the first incident of its kind where an MP would use physical gesture, or object, to show displeasure with a colleague from another party.

Kgoroba – 4,180

Rakgare – 3,846

Masimolole – 3,787

 

Wynter Mmolotsi (Francistown South)

The former member of BDP, who crossed the floor to join BMD in 2010, will be making history as far as joining new parties as MP is concerned. He will be ‘skipping the fence’ for a second time as MP to join a new party using the votes from another different party.  He is a good debater in Parliament and in the freedom square.

Mmolotsi -5,261

BDP-3,289

BCP-1,511

Haskins Nkaigwa (Gaborone North)

The Gaborone North MP was one of the surprises that 2014 general elections presented to many voters. He beat Keletso Rakhudu who was a Cabinet minister and who happened to be a collateral damage in voters’ mood to punish the Khama administration. A combined BNF and BCP will definitely hit hard on Nkaigwa’s 2014 victory and even pose a threat to his re-election under a new party.

Nkaigwa – 5,738

Rakhudu – 4,109

Rapelana -  3,157

 

Pius Mokgware (Gabane – Mmankgodi)

Fresh from military service for several decades, Major General Pius Mokgware benefitted from the BMD’s affiliation to the UDC and got a sympathy vote from soldiers who were not happy with a lot of things, including the utterances allegedly made by the President’s cousin that their salaries were equivalent to his dog allowance as well as his controversial removal from the army.  Should he move to the new party, Mokgware is not likely to make it back into the National Assembly.

Mokgware – 7,155

Placid Lesedi Mmusi – 6,833

Mozambia Dibe – 3,056

 

The BMD has for a long time been accused of trying to imitate South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters by not focusing on debates on the floor, but causing a lot of chaos in the House. On the other hand the MPs have on many occasions accused the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe, and her deputy, Kagiso Molatlhegi of bias towards the BDP. The 11th Parliament is almost on the evening of its lifespan, but very little has been heard from opposition. Phenyo Butale was once forced to leave the House by security guards who pinned him to the floor after he refused to leave voluntarily.

It was an embarrassing scene, but there seemed to be little sympathy from the public who expressed mixed reactions to the incident. The new party will definitely bring a premature ending to many political careers whilst possibly benefiting one or two individuals who stand a chance of being re-elected to the National Assembly. On the other hand, a combination of stable BNF and BCP and others stands a chance of winning more Parliamentary seats.

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