PALAPYE: The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Party candidate in the area, Oneetse RamogapiIt is spending sleepless nights after Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) decided to field a parliamentary candidate in the Palapye constituency.
BPF has fielded Dr Kolaatamo Malefho who will battle Ramogapi, Moiseraela Goya of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Gape Motswaledi of Alliance for Progressives (AP) for the constituency.
Party patron, Ian Khama recently introduced Malefho to the constituents at Kediretswe Freedom Square where Khama acknowledged the UDC candidate, but appealed to both the BPF and UDC members to vote for Malefho in the general elections.
He reckoned Palapye was a stronghold of the BPF and therefore, Malefho stood a better chance to defeat the BDP candidate. Khama’s introduction of Malefho appears to undermine UDC strength in the constituency in a way.
The BPF patron has launched a number of UDC candidates in various areas. Amongst others, he launched Sefhare/Ramokgonami’s Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang and Taolo Lucas in Bobonong. Ramogapi expected a similar favour. He openly supported the formation of a breakaway BPF from the BDP and attended the famous Serowe meetings that were precursors to the BPF formation.
In one of the meetings, Ramogapi went to the extent of cladding the black ‘E seng mo go Kgosikgolo’ branded t-shirts. Although he appeared hard done by the development relating to Dr Malefho, the UDC candidate claims he is ready for the challenge.
Ramogapi is of the view that some bitter members that lost primary elections in the UDC camp and defected to BPF were behind the new party’s decision to field a parliamentary candidate in the constituency.
On other issues, he dismissed the BPF’s strength in the constituency noting that the arrival of Dr Malefho is a desperate move that would only unsettle constituents, but was far from yielding the desired victory for the opposition.
“They are confused because wherever Khama goes, he attracts crowds but it doesn’t reflect the numbers of the BPF members as it is purported amongst its supporters. We have worked the ground they don’t have the numbers,” he said.
He said the BPF‘s seriousness in the choice of a candidate was
“Even the Khama magic would not work in this case,” he said. “On the ground, people are questioning the seriousness of the BPF with its unknown candidate in the constituency.”
He added, “This is a deliberate sabotage by bitter members that defected from our party after losing primaries. They are misleading and using the BPF for their mileage. They lied to their party central committee and Khama about BPF strength in Palapye.”
Despite the clearly undesired challenge, Ramogapi anticipated the vote-splitting effect on the BDP. He said BPF would bring a majority of their voters from their splinter party. “That is what I am counting on. I have no qualms about my stand,” he said.
The AP’s Motswaledi shared similar sentiments on the “level of seriousness of the BPF”. He also believed the new party has curtailed the strength of the BDP.
“The BPF is not focused even in terms of selection of candidates. The fact that they have placed candidates in all the local government wards and the parliamentary candidate when they openly announced their support for the UDC shows the level of confusion in the party,” he said.
But BPF chairperson in the Palapye constituency, Lawrence Bodilenyane was not interested in responding to their opponents’ sentiments. He said BPF was focused in unseating BDP.
He said they support the UDC in 39 constituencies and Palapye is not one of them. Bodilenyane said they have no agreements with the UDC leadership in the Palapye constituency.
“We stand a better chance to unseat the BDP than the UDC does in Palapye. We have a better candidate. We have no agreements with the UDC in this constituency,” he said.