Over 7,000 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members are expected to cast votes for their aspirant candidate for Moshupa-Manyana constituency tomorrow.
Whoever wins on Saturday will represent the BDP in the by-election, which will be held on June 16. The five members who will be contesting for the tight primaries are Benjamin Mogodi, Karabo Gare, Boikhutso Disele, Lentswe Mosanako and Stephen Kganela.
The BDP Moshupa-Manyana chairperson, Watson Thibelang said the party is ready for the primaries, with 26 polling stations. But the negotiations with the candidates for a compromise candidate are still on even at this late hour.
“We are not going to force them to compromise. Our wish is to have a consensus candidate. We are going to meet candidates before the end of this week to brief them about logistics. We will also emphasise the need for those who might lose to support the one who wins,” Thibelang said.
But from interviews with sister publication, The Monitor last week, it emerged that it is highly unlikely that any of the candidates would back down. All the five expressed that they are the most suitable and said they would contest the primaries.
Gare’s close association with President Mokgweetsi Masisi has surely made the elder candidates uncomfortable, as they fear the former area Member of Parliament’s magic would work in his favour.
It is undeniable that Masisi’s ascension to the presidency played a key role in swaying voters to the BDP in the recent Ralekgetho ward by-election, even though the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) looked certain to win on paper.
Quizzed on his association with Masisi, Gare said he simply wanted to learn from the best. “If you want to be a football coach, you align yourself with people like Alex Ferguson. That is exactly why I am close to the President,” he said.
Gare however said that it does not mean he is getting any preferential treatment, as he will go to primaries with all the other candidates. “Of course, I am close to the President because I wanted to understand about the issues of leadership during the time when he was the Vice President. Masisi is not helping me in my campaigns,” Gare said.
Commenting on Gare’s issue, Mosanako said they were not moved by the fact that there is a candidate who is close to the President. “We are all democrats and we must compete. I have worked hard for years for the party in this area. BDP members should be given an opportunity to vote for their favourite candidate. I do not believe in compromise and won’t support it if proposed. Democrats should not be confused by people who claim to be close to President than others,” Mosanako said.
Kganela believed he would pull off good numbers since he is strong in Manyana and got support again at Moshupa. The engineer believes he would be the ideal candidate to ensure that developments are distributed equally in the constituency. He could be at an advantage as he is the first to seek votes from outside Moshupa.
“I had contested for primary elections with the President before and lost. This time around, I believe that I will make it. In the 2013 BDP primaries, I was voted by around 900 people and I believe that the numbers will increase,” he said. Mogodi, who is a councillor said he believes that he had campaigned well in the area and he stands a good chance to win.
“I believe I am a better candidate because I have council experience. Again, I have interest to see this constituency developing. I have been working well with people of this constituency and I can do more. I will also support any person who wins the primaries,” he said. For his part, Disele believes that his experience at Botswana Development Corporation gives him an edge over others.
“I have been involved in successful projects such as Bolux Milling, Thapama Hotel and Grand Palm amongst others. I will execute my mandate very well as a legislator.
Whoever wins the primaries will face Jonathan Sethono of the UDC. Sethono who is a member of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was not opposed as a candidate for his party.