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- The region has of recent become a political battle ground
- Kario, Mbulawa, Shamukuni, Elias, Dina reportedly have blessings of BDP leadership
- BCP, AP, BLP completes constituency negotiations
- UDC will reportedly field Arone, Mpho, Kaukapita for Okavango, Maun West & East respectively
The political battle for the soul of the North West region’s four constituencies of Maun East, West, Ngami and Okavango in next year’s general election has heated up, and names for potential candidates are being thrown around under various political formations.
The region has of recent been a battle ground for all the parties as they engaged in robust campaigns led by their Leaders-Duma Boko, Dumelang Saleshando and president Mokgweetsi Masisi respectively.
The BDP was the first to launch the offensive, in its spirited campaign led by Masisi with rallies in the Okavango and Ngami just before Christmas last year. This offensive seems to have stirred the hornets’ nest of panic among incumbents.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) over the weekend threw the spanner into works, announcing its departure from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) under whose ticket it contested the 2019 elections. All the incumbent MPs for the four constituencies of Maun East, Maun West, Ngami and Okavango are BCP members.
As things stand, the next coming general elections will be a three horse race between UDC, ruling Botswana Democratic Party and BCP’s new coalition with Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Labor Party (BLP).
While names have been thrown out there, though unconfirmed, the UDC seems to be the one lagging behind in finding candidates to contest elections in the four constituencies. This is however understandable as the Umbrella could have been hopeful that BCP will not leave after all.
Other parties have candidates, who though they still have to go for primaries like the BDP, it is believed that would just be a formality as they already have the blessings of the party leadership, while BCP swims in the glory of being incumbents.
For the BDP names that are already out there include that of Reaboka Mbulawa for Maun East, T.P Elias for Maun West, Kavis Kario for Ngami, Machana Ronald Shamukuni for Chobe and Cameroon Dina for Okavango. It is not immediately clear whether they will be challenged in the party’s Bulela Ditswe.
As earlier indicated, it is highly likely that BCP’s incumbent MPs, Dumelang Saleshando (Maun West), Goretetse Kekgonegile (Maun East), Carter Hikuama (Ngami) and Kenny Kapinga (Okavango) will seek to retain the constituencies. It is not yet clear who the coalition will field in Chobe.
The party’s secretary general, Kekgonegile has this past weekend dismissed allegations that constituency negotiations with BLP and AP had stalled, assuring party members that they have already completed negotiations and they have agreed on who takes which constituency. “We have completed our talks and there were no fights regarding constituencies as some reports purported,” Kekgonegile said at their mega rally held in Maun.
Though UDC regional chairman Regional Chairman Simon Nthite could not confirm their candidates in the five constituencies reports doing rounds are that the party will field former cabinet minister and MP Bagalatia Arone in the Okavango, Tiego Mpho in Maun West and outspoken Sedie Ward councilor, Kaukapita Kaukapita in Maun East. It appears UDC is still to identify a suitable candidate for Ngami and Chobe constituencies.
While none of the trio has neither confirmed nor denied the reports, UDC President Duma Boko and Chairman Motlatsi Molapisi this past weekend paraded Arone and Mpho respectively at their rally held in Maun. To many, this was all telling.
“Bagalatia Arone is amongst us today having taken the decision that from different parties forming the UDC he joins the coalition under the BPF ticket,” Boko said when welcoming the former cabinet minister to the opposition.
Meanwhile it appears the BDP is bringing all it has to the region to wrestle the constituencies from the opposition in next year’s general elections. Masisi recently told BDP members in Shakawe that he wants all these constituencies under the BDP.
This week BDP regional Chairman Reaboka Mbulawa announced that the party will hold a mega rally in Maun on February 26, – headlined by President Masisi himself.