FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has denied that it has allowed the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to contest for five council wards in the Francistown West constituency at the 2019 general elections.
The BMD position is in contrast with what the BCP vice president, Kesitegile Gobotswang told Mmegi last week.
Then, Gobotswang said that to the best of his knowledge the BCP was to contest the 2019 elections in all wards within Francistown West with the exception of one that was given to the Botswana National Front (BNF). In total, there are six wards in Francistown West.
Gobotswang said that the decision to allow the BCP to contest council wards in Francistown West is part of an agreement BCP reached with the BMD when the two parties exchanged constituencies recently.
The Botswana People’s Party (BPP) will contest the Francistown West parliamentary seat.
They were given the constituency by the BMD. The BCP gave the BMD Francistown West in exchange for Maun West where they will field their president Dumelang Saleshando. The BCP, BPP, BNF and BMD are partners in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The BCP has maintained that it did not exchange the council wards while the BMD and the BPP maintain the contrary.
The BPP has even said that they will soon start looking for candidates to contest in the wards within Francistown West, a development that has reportedly irked some of the BCP who were said to be preparing to contest the wards at the next general elections.
“The agreement of the BMD and the BCP constituency exchange(s) has been thoroughly discussed to the point of wards sharing.
“This agreement is such that, for the principle of 40/60 to remain in effect because we at the BMD were prior to the exchange, a leading party in Maun West, we thus retain 40% of the wards in Maun West,” BMD spokesperson Winfred Rasina said yesterday.
Rasina said that this then means that, the BCP, BNF and the BPP will decides amongst themselves on the distribution of the remaining 60% of the wards amongst themselves with reference
“This then equally means that because the BCP, which was a leading party in Francistown West prior to the exchange, retains the 40% of the wards and hence equally the BMD, BPP and the BNF are thus left with 60% to distribute amongst themselves,” Rasina said.
Although the principle of 40/60 is implemented in ward allocation amongst umbrella parties, some coalition members have often expressed doubt about the effectiveness of the method.
Their argument is that some other parties do not have structures in some areas hence giving them wards where they do not have a strong presence will defeat the coalition’s desire to unseat the ruling BDP from power.
Yesterday, Gobotswang maintained that BCP is the rightful party to contest all the wards in Francistown West.
He said the 40/60 principle does not apply in the case of allocation of wards in Francistown West.
“The issue of ward allocations in Francistown West was even dealt with by lower UDC structures and it was agreed that the BCP will contest all the wards with the exception of one.
“We will be meeting the BPP to discuss issues surrounding the allocation of wards,” Gobotswang said yesterday.
The argument of the majority of BCP is that the BPP does not have any sound structures to contest all wards and a parliamentary seat in Francistown West.
Meanwhile, Mmegi has also learnt that the BPP wrote a letter to the BCP this week demanding that the two parties should open a discussion on the ward allocation in Francistown West.
Gobotswang also confirmed that the BPP has written to the BCP demanding a discussion on the issue of ward allocations in the constituency, but refused to discuss contents of the letter.
Parties within the UDC have in recent months experienced vast differences as a result of their disagreements over the allocation of wards or constituencies among others.