FRANCISTOWN: A dog-eat-dog political contest is anticipated in the Boteti West constituency where the Vice President (VP) Slumber Tsogwane will lock horns with the Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) candidate, Sam Digwa, in the upcoming general elections.
Should Tsogwane lose in October, and President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the BDP prevail in the 2019 general elections, then Tsogwane’s loss will throw Masisi’s succession plans into disarray if he so wishes to stick with the incumbent VP after elections.
Over the past weekend, in Palapye during a BDP retreat, Masisi showed that he still has confidence in Tsogwane.
At the retreat, Masisi told multitudes of BDP diehards that he made the right choice in nominating Tsogwane as his VP. Masisi even went further to describe Tsogwane as a disciplined BDP cadre who is ready to take the challenges that come with being elected to hold the office of VP head on.
Buoyed by Tsogwane’s recent appointment as Botswana’s second citizen, many expect Tsogwane to easily sail through his adversary (or adversaries) in October.
The political dynamics in Boteti West have now taken a new twist ever since Tsogwane became the VP. In the last general elections, Tsogwane received 5,790 votes followed by Digwa and Tjiliga Letsholo of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who got 5,549 and 622 votes respectively.
With the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) now having joined forces with other opposition parties under the aegis of the UDC, statistics will favour the UDC to snatch the constituency from the clutches of the BDP if the 2014 general election results are anything to go by. In the last general elections, the combined votes of the UDC and BCP eclipsed those of the BDP with a margin of 381 votes although the difference is still minimal and can be reversed as results of past general elections in some constituencies around the country can show.
This is, however, notwithstanding other factors that the UDC is currently facing. Chief amongst them, will be the High Court case that was launched by a former ally, Botswana Movement of Democracy (BMD), which is challenging its expulsion from the UDC.
In the same breath, the ginormous frictions that have erupted in the BDP ever since Masisi settled for Tsogwane as his VP are threatening its unity and electoral success. It is now a well-known fact that ever since that happened, Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama have never enjoyed the cordial relationship they used to delight in during the latter’s reign as President.
Analysts are of the opinion that Masisi and Khama’s frosty relationship have the potential to further reverse the BDP’s electoral fortunes, which dwindled drastically to below 50% after the 2014 general elections.
Amidst these current political dynamics, the UDC’s Digwa is unfazed and promises a political battle
Digwa recently told this publication from his cattlepost that he is very much aware that the elevation of Tsogwane as Botswana’s VP has given him an upper hand than in 2014 when he was just a member of Cabinet.
“I am aware that Tsogwane has visited Boteti West on countless occasions ever since he was appointed the VP. This, however, does not scare me because I have done my homework and will continue to work even harder and strategically to thwart all attempts by the BDP to reclaim Boteti West,” an optimistic Digwa said.
To Digwa, Tsogwane’s multiple forays into Boteti West are nothing but signs of a man and a party on panic mode.
Digwa has vowed to heavily defeat Tsogwane whom he claims, “has done little to advance the development trajectory of Boteti West ever since he was appointed as a legislator”.
“With the BCP now on board, we are going to defeat the BDP. Nothing can stop us this time around. Tsogwane’s fate has already been decided even before the October polls,” Digwa confidently said.
Asked for his opinion recently about who stands a better chance to win the Boteti West constituency, a political science lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) Leonard Sesa said Tsogwane might win again.
Sesa said the BDP could have lost the constituency to the opposition in 2014 had the latter contested the 2014 general elections as a bloc.
“…In 2014 Tsogwane was just a Cabinet minister but by virtue of his position now as the VP and the benefits that come with occupying that position, circumstances certainly give Tsogwane an upper hand over his competitor(s) to retain the constituency in October,” Sesa opined. Sesa further stated that Tsogwane’s position, as the VP will arm him with more political ammunition and gravitas.
“Additionally, the UDC has many problems that it is currently grappling with unlike before the 2014 general elections. This is, however, notwithstanding the fact that the BDP is also facing its internal problems that it has to solve urgently. Despite all these problems, the BDP still has an upper hand. Also, Tsogwane has been quiet in the midst of the current BDP problems. This will work very well for Tsogwane before his constituents because he is not tainted by whatever political frictions currently afflicting the BDP,” Sesa analysed.
Sesa said: “Tsogwane’s elevation to the position of VP has given him more stature before his constituents, which have the potential to negate all efforts the UDC may come up with in October”.