Two BCP activists battle it out for Moselewapula

FRANCISTOWN: Two Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activists will battle it out in primary election to determine a candidate who will represent the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in a by-election at Moselewapula ward in the Francistown West constituency.

The by-election was occasioned by the death of councillor Reuben Ketlhoilwe in May following a long illness. In the 2019 general elections, Ketlhoilwe won the ward under the UDC ticket with 579 votes. He was followed by Gilbert Boikhutso of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Bushy Ditshotlo of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Gilbert Makombo of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with 550, 196 and 49 votes respectively.

The political dynamics at Moselewapula have now changed following the return of the BCP’s prodigal son, Gilbert Makombo, to its fold. According to the chairperson of the BCP in Francistown West, Smarts Shabani, Makombo will slug it out with Oagile Wairi. However, the duo’s candidacy is subject to vetting before they can be allowed to compete in the primary election, said Shabani. “In the 2019 general elections, Ketlhoilwe who was a BCP activist won Moselewapula ward under the banner of the UDC hence the ward belongs to the BCP. However, the BCP will compete in the by-election under the ticket of UDC just like in 2019.

The BCP recently received nomination papers from Makombo and Wairi. The two are the only activists who have shown interest in competing for our primary elections. The BCP will hold its primary elections in Moselewapula on June 11, 2022,” added Shabani. While the BCP expects to field its candidate under the ticket of the UDC during the looming by-election because of the Memorandum of Understanding the UDC has entered into with the BPF and AP to contest all by-elections (council or parliamentary) as one bloc before the 2024 general elections, there are some political undercurrents at play at Moselewapula.

There are reports that in the event that the BCP makes a political volte-face and decides to go it alone in the by-election just like at Bophirima in Gaborone, the Botswana People’s Party (BPP), which is in a tripartite alliance with the Botswana National Front (BNF) in the UDC, the BPP has already prepared a candidate to represent the UDC.

The deputy secretary general of BPP, Tiroeaone Ntsima refuted allegations that it has already prepared a candidate to stand in the by-election.

“What we know is that Moselewapula ward belongs to the BCP. Unless the BCP decides otherwise, the BPP will then field its candidate. The BPP is also not campaigning in the ward at the present moment,” said Ntsima.

While Ntsima is refuting allegations that the BPP has already hit the ground running and is propping its candidate (name known to this publication) for Moselewapula, sources in the ward say the BPP has started its campaign in earnest. It is public knowledge that the UDC is facing enormous leadership problems that are partly caused by governance issues especially between the BCP and BNF. The BCP wants the UDC to be truly run in an open and transparent manner, but the BNF is not playing ball hence the past and recent problems engulfing the UDC which are even forcing the BCP to contemplate leaving the UDC. It remains to be seen if the ghosts that are bedevilling the UDC, especially the BCP and BNF will continue to haunt it at Moselewapula. But for now UDC members can take solace in the fact that even the secretary-general of the BCP Goretetse Kekgonegile, who is also the Member of Parliament for Maun East, has confirmed that the BCP will field its candidate under the UDC ticket at Moselewapula just like in the 2019 general elections.

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