Mmegi Online :: Bobirwa’s clash of the titans
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Last Updated
Friday 14 December 2018, 17:40 pm.
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Bobirwa’s clash of the titans

FRANCISTOWN: The decision by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to grant the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi to have more than one bite at the cherry is an interesting political development.
By Ryder Gabathuse Fri 30 Nov 2018, 14:18 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Bobirwa’s clash of the titans








This is indeed a serious test of the ruling party’s internal democracy that has been a subject of debate ever since the introduction of the controversy-ridden Bulela Ditswe primary elections.

Kgathi who had garnered 2, 595 votes to his novice challenger and businessman-turned-politician, Francisco Kgoboko has a mammoth task to prove his mettle.

Kgoboko, a former Debswana engineer, had beaten the incumbent to his own game by garnering 4, 865 votes three months ago.

Politics can be very cruel as Kgoboko’s good work can simply go up in smoke with voters changing allegiances to his opposite number. Equally, Kgathi can be badly rejected by the constituents for the second time or he wins. This is politics; it’s not for the faint-hearted and there is always one winner, as position two has no reward in the local political system.

Odds are literally stacked against Kgathi whose popularity in his own backyard, Bobirwa, seems to have been waning and has seemingly fallen out of favour with some of his former allies.

The re-run for the constituency pits Kgathi against some of the councillors who have been on his side and had since fallen in political love with former president Ian Khama’s sidekick, Kgoboko.

There will be a lot at stake when Kgathi and Kgoboko whose surnames interestingly start with a ‘Kg’ come face-to-face.

Kgathi’s opportunity to be granted a re-run is a blessing, as this is the only chance left for him to redeem himself and his fortunes after he was beaten hands down by a newcomer who was doubted in the beginning.

As for the re-run, it will be a battle for the titans. The re-run also provides a test of the efficiencies of the systems of the BDP primary elections.

A million pula question is what has really changed between the last primary elections held in August and today for Kgathi to have gained more numbers and Kgoboka to lose ground?

Given the short period of time, it’s logical to assume that nothing much has happened to warrant a serious turnaround for Kgathi to reverse a margin of over 2,270 votes.   The Minister’s position is also compounded by recent social media comments by some Bobirwa constituents that they are set to punish him in reaction to him being granted a second chance. Some feel the system has unduly favoured him.

Kgathi is amongst Cabinet members who have lost at primary elections leaving President Mokgweetsi Masisi literally ‘mourning’ for their loss. His worry being the calibre of the current crop as opposed to the newly elected crop.

The BDP recently overturned the elections results for the Bobirwa primary election.

Kgathi had launched a protest. His reasoning was premised on the fact that former president Khama had endorsed his rival, something which is against the rules and regulations of the party primaries.

Khama had travelled to Bobonong just days before the primaries to launch a trust that enjoys Kgoboko’s backing. This did not go down well with Kgathi who classified the launch as a campaign trail by Kgoboko with the backing of Khama. Khama said during the launch as widely quoted in the news media: “I want

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someone who will work and deliver for his people, not someone who is hungry for power. It is my first time to attend an event without an MP, you (voters) will have to correct that mistake.  “He tried to block Dikgosi from coming. He has shown some disrespect not only to them but also to me as a Paramount chief. Go and tell him that the chiefs are well in attendance, even the community at large.”  Khama also alleged that Kgathi wanted to prevent him from attending the launch. But sampling the chances of the two men, Kgathi might be headed for another humiliating defeat at the re-run.

If the public debate and the reaction of some BDP diehards after the party announced it had sanctioned a re-run of the primaries is anything to go by, Kgathi has a tall order. It is evident that the masses are not happy and read malice from the party executive decision.

It cannot be dismissed that many voters may be influenced by negative public opinion that the outcome of the protest has attracted and decide against voting Kgathi.

Kgoboko may also attract sympathy votes because there is a school of thought that a faction associated with Masisi, which is now in charge of the BDP, is said to be on a mission to solidify its position across various party structures and will do all it can to purge dissent and accommodate its favourites.

Voters may retaliate by snubbing Kgathi who is seen to be loyal to Masisi. This is highly likely because the posture of some BDP diehards suggests that the manner in which the primaries were handled swayed in favour of those who are loyal to the President and his allies.

Kgathi’s opponent is well resourced and reports suggest he started campaigning in the constituency since a dispute of the results arose. Even the figures he amassed at the primaries are a true testimony that he had done his homework.

Kgoboko said he could not discuss anything in relation to the primaries when asked about his prospects of winning the re-run.

Reached for comment this week, Kgathi told Mmegi that he has always been ready for a re-run, which the party has granted him after his appeal following his bitter loss in August.

“All we are doing now, we are currently in a meeting in Bobirwa and we have already reached a consensus in about 2,000 disputed names, which were registered for the primary elections last August,” he said indicating that there is an easy way of identifying people who were ineligible to register for the constituency.

Kgathi who is also the BDP deputy secretary general added: “It has since emerged that there were registration books which were illegally recorded and in short, we are now cleaning the constituency voters’ rolls ahead of the re-run for BDP Bobirwa constituency”.

This internecine battle is slated for December 15, 2018.

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