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Last Updated
Monday 02 August 2021, 21:48 pm.
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Opposition unity cracks on Shashemooke by-election

Francistown: Shashemooke ward may prove to be the unfolding of election cooperation between opposition parties if not handled carefully, as recent disagreements between the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) is proving.
By Edward Bule
Correspondent
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Opposition unity cracks on Shashemooke by-election








A bye-election is expected to be held for Shashemooke after the death of the ward councilor, Alleluya Mathumo of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) two weeks ago. Already parties are positioning themselves for the vacant seat.

The BNF and the BPP are not in one accord on the issue of who between them, should field a candidate in the ward. The two parties are part of four opposition parties currently negotiating election cooperation.

National organizing secretary of the BNF, Michael Mzwinila confirmed in a telephone interview that his party is interested in the ward. "Odirile Ngenda has since joined the BNF and as a result, we are negotiating with the BPP to give us support and not insist on standing," said the former BNF member of parliament for Gaborone North who has since relocated to Tonota South. Mzwinila hopes that the issue will not create any animosity between the two parties whom he says have come a long way as cooperating partners in the elections.

Mzwinila hopes the envisaged negotiations over Shashemooke will be concluded soon to enable the parties to start campaigning for the impending bye-election and says disagreements could prove to be a building block on the cooperation talks in general.

Odirile Ngenda was a BNF operative until 2004 when he fell out with  the party leadership and stood in that year's general election as an independent candidate. The elections were however won by the BDP. In 2009, he stood again as an independent candidate.

Contacted for comment, Silent Tlale of the BPP, who is also a member of the central committee, says that his party has written to all their negotiating partners including the BNF asking for support in the pending bye-election.

As far as he is concerned, a constituency or ward is awarded to a party and not an individual. The guiding principle in the previous agreements, according to Tlale, is that the opposition

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party that is ahead of the other opposition parties gets the ward or constituency.

A BNF veteran who preferred to remain anonymous believes he will be the BNF campaign manager for the bye-election and feels that with Ngenda as their candidate, his party will deliver the ward to the opposition ranks.

The secretary general of the BPP, Shathiso Tambula confirms having had a telephone conversation with Mzwinila over the issue of Shashemooke. He, however, says he has not received the BNF letter yet.

Akanyang Magama, the BNF secretary general says he is not aware that there might be an argument between the BPP and the BNF over  Shashemooke. Magama, who says he has not received the BPP letter as yet, reveals that the BNF is planning to address its members at Shashemooke to determine the way forward. He adds that the issue will be discussed further at the next meeting of opposition parties on 16th December when bye-elections and independent candidates will be discussed in general with the view to coming out with guidelines for the cooperation project.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) publicity and information secretary, Taolo Lucas says that his party has so far received only the BPP letter asking for support in the bye-election. The letter is yet to be discussed by the BCP leadership. The Botswana Movement for Democracy was not available to confirm receipt of any communication from either the BPP or BNF requesting for support. 

Shashemooke is in the Tonota North constituency and has been a BDP stronghold since independence. In the last elections, the BDP won the seat with 405 votes. Odirile Ngenda, who stood as an independent candidate, came second with 259 votes. The Botswana Peoples' Party represented by Silent Tlale was at position three with 163 votes while Mbi Elifas of the Botswana National Front, secured 63 votes. The Botswana Congress Party was not represented.

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