The biblical Noah build an ark, which he used to save the lives of different living species during the Great Flood.
Noah Salakae of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) promised Gantsi North voters ahead of the 2014 general elections that he would ‘build an ark’ to solve their problems, which included poverty. But Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) John Thiite would have none of that as he torpedoed the vessel.
He garnered 4,893 votes against Salakae’s 4,717. In the vote, 110 ballots were spoilt with most of the issues being that voters marked X for both candidates. In 2014 when the UDC won 17 parliamentary seats, Salakae was amongst the heroes.
He won Gantsi North constituency in his first attempt, also marking the first time the constituency had landed in opposition hands since independence.
Salakae who defeated Johnnie Swartz in 2014 has always known that he had an opponent who could defeat him in the name of Johane Thiite.
The former MP worked hard to canvass for votes as his opponent, Thiite was also busy engaging residents and undertaking various projects. October 23, 2019 came and it was time for Gantsi North to vote in an election where none of the candidates was sure they would win.
Early indications that Thiite could actually win the constituency came after council results came in and he had scooped seven out of the 11 wards, Noah’s party fellows winning three and one going to an independent council candidate.
This led to UDC members staying away from the counting centre while BDP members were happy in song until the results were released.
Throughout the counting, Thiite maintained a lead ranging from a margin of 300 votes but at some point Salakae’s followers had hope as the margin went lower than 100. He however could not catch up and Thiite was declared the winner just moments before he arrived at the counting
“It is all God’s plan. He gave me five years and I served well. It is time for another one to serve. I gave a good fight and it was very tough because I was contesting against money,” he said. Salakae said he would not complain even though he was unhappy that polling stations in CKGR closed at 5pm while it is his stronghold.
The BNF treasurer general was quick to state that his political career was not coming to an end, as he became a politician before being a Member of Parliament. He thanked those who voted for him and promised to continue working with people within the constituency. For his part, Thiite expressed his delight with the win.
“I am happy I won the seat at first attempt. I would like to thank the voters and assure them that I will work hard to ensure they get developments they so need,” he said. On the issue of the CKGR raised by Salakae, Thiite said he was happy with the way elections were conducted.
Returning officer Mooketsi Lesetedi said the polls went smoothly.
“The fact that both candidates accepted the results makes us happy as it shows that we did a great job. We are concerned about the large number of spoilt votes and believe we should do more to educate people on how to vote properly,” he said
Lesetedi said all stakeholders including voters knew that the polling stations in CKGR would close at 5pm.
He also said they managed to count earlier than other times because a helicopter was used to take ballot boxes to the counting centre unlike in the past where a car would be used.