In a rather interesting turn of events, an independent candidate who was denied a shot at standing for Ghanzi Township East (Kabakae) ward by his party in Gantsi North has won the ward during the elections.
According to Roller Setlabane, he decided to contest independently after his party Botswana National Front (BNF) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) denied him an opportunity to contest the primary election against Bashi Thiite who was the incumbent.
Earlier this year, BNF Kabakae ward committee resigned, to rally behind Setlabane campaign for the ward council seat. The disgruntled ward committee’s resignation followed unsuccessful attempts to meet with UDC president, Duma Boko.
Setlabane told this publication that they could not work with the party’s preferred candidate Thiite, as he shunned party primary elections, saying he was a veteran.
Setlabane became an independent candidate after the UDC endorsed Thiite, a move which was strongly opposed by the ward committee and general membership occasions.
“I am an independent council elect. I am a BNF member under UDC. When the BMD was expelled, I was as a BNF member called for primary election. I was told the incumbent who was a BMD member should not be challenged.
We were supposed to have primary elections as the writ was issued. Thiite refused to contest and the membership called him to contest, but he refused after he was authorised as candidate by UDC,” he said.
Setlabane whose car carries his branding as independent candidate as well as that of Noah Salakae as MP candidate said he campaigned with UDC members, as they understood what was going on.
He accused Thiite of campaigning for himself as a councillor as well as for his nephew, Johane Thiite, of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for parliamentary seat.
He is said to have only campaigned from September as he spent most of the time in hospital. He is still limping from a huge cut below his left knee and depended on his campaign team to deliver his victory.
He won with 509 votes, Segwana of the BDP got 420 votes while Thiite got 360 votes.
Setlabane said he would not waste any time and join the UDC. He, however, said he blames the leadership for Salakae’s loss.
“We lost this constituency due to BNF and UDC leadership because they supported Thiite. That is why Salakae and even Boko lost, and I am happy Boko lost because he denied me an opportunity at the primary elections.Boko wanted Salakae to lose,” he said.
He thanked the voters for voting for him when he was hospitalised.