From the formative stage of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), former president, Ian Khama had hinted that the main purpose of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) breakaway was to deny the BDP its dominance in the GammaNgwato territory which has been the hub of the BDP since independence in 1966. Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE reports that true to its character, the BPF has denied the BDP majority in its traditional stronghold where political giants have fallen
Armed only with the claim that he was still popular in the vast GammaNgwato territory, Khama was brave enough to sell the notion of forming a party – a breakaway from the BDP.
The BDP was formed amongst others by Khama’s late father, Sir Seretse Khama. Khama left the BDP claiming that President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the BDP leadership were harassing him.
Besides being the former president, Khama also wore the hat of Kgosikgolo for GammaNgwato and simply played victim to his subjects that he was being ‘harassed’ by the Masisi regime and thereby drawing sympathy from his subjects.
Khama sought audience with Bangwato across the vastness of the district, who gave him the go ahead to form a party that has in these elections stopped the BDP from easily sailing to victory as has been the tradition in the past elections.
History is being made in many areas like Palapye, Shoshong, Serowe, Tswapong, Bobirwa, Mahalapye and others that are predominantly in GammaNgwato although Botswana politics allows anyone who has registered to vote in any area that is one’s principal residence.
Giants have fallen in the CDC where ministers Thapelo Olopeng lost in Tonota to his nemesis Pono Moatlhodi of the UDC, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang finally toppled minister Dorcas Makgato in Sefhare-Ramokgonami, in Palapye, Assistant Minister Moiseraele Goya lost to Onnetse Ramogapi of the UDC whilst acting Minister Phillip Makgalemele was at the time of print, struggling to amass numbers as the UDC candidate was leading.
One of Khama’s targets was to ensure that Vice President Tsogwane loses re-election as he said was one of the politicians that soiled his good name after an incident that was reported to Khama by some Palapye party operatives led by Lawrence Bodilenyane, who have since pioneered the BPF.
As counting was ongoing, Tsogwane was also staking on thin ice. Whilst the BPF victory will apparently be limited to some Serowe constituencies, the new party led by Biggie Butale has shaken the entire District denying the BDP smooth victory in its usual strongholds and beyond, ensuring that instead the less popular UDC wins.
At the time of writing this story, the BPF had registered about 18 councillors, majority of which are in the Serowe constituencies, according to the party spokesperson Justice Motlhabani. Counting was still ongoing for the parliamentary seats.
For one, the BPF joined the race very late when other parties had already set their agendas. It caused confusion as the BPF contested against the Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) which was supposed to be its unofficial ally in some cases unnecessarily splitting the votes.
In a recent interview, University of Botswana lecturer in political and administrative studies, Adam Mfundisi was adamant.
“It is without any shadow of doubt, that the BPF has lent a shattering blow to the BDP.
Even those who overtly support the ruling party covertly disapprove of its current leadership and may not vote for BDP candidates.”
He described the Masisi administration as more vengeful than the previous Khama administration. In his view, people in the CDC, have made their minds. He stressed that the combined force of the BPF and UDC is a defining factor in these elections.
He had predicted: “The chances are high for the BPF to unseat the BDP as well as assisting the UDC to penetrate the hitherto BDP heartland. UDC without BPF was still a serious threat to the political hegemony of the BDP in CDC and beyond,” said the UB academic.