The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), and Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP), which is representing the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), are all under pressure to win the Moselewapula ward by-election in the Gerald Estate township in Francistown. The by-election is scheduled for July 30th. For the ruling BDP, the ward is a must-win because the party has not performed badly in the ward by-elections post the 2019 general elections, winning only 3 out of 12.
BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse admitted in an interview that his party was worried that it has been doing badly in the by-elections. The fact that the BDP primaries at Moselewapula attracted a total of 155 people as opposed to the BCP’s 167 people is hardly an assurance for the ruling party.
The party is looking for an opportunity to turn the corner and project the ability to not only turn the tables this time around but give its members the assurance that it is still ready to remain in power.
The BDP may however benefit from the fact that the UDC has, for all intents and purposes, collapsed with the BCP contesting outside the coalition.
This has left the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the BPP as the only UDC affiliates. The perennial differences in the UDC were escalated by the controversial suspensions of BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando and secretary-general, Goretetse Kekgonegile two weeks ago.
The fact that BCP won the ward in the 2019 general elections by garnering 579 votes puts the party in a favourable position. But the fallout may hurt the BCP considering that BNF and BPP members are not only going to deny the BCP a vote but will actively de-campaign it in favour of the UDC.
In 2019, the BDP, represented by Gilbert Boikhutso got 550 votes. Meanwhile, Bushy Ditshotlo of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Gilbert Makombo of the Botswana Progressive Front (BPF) got 196 and 43 votes respectively.
While the AP has become a BCP partner and is expected to mobilise voters for the BCP including AP members, Makombo, who had defected to the BPF from the BCP has since migrated back to the BCP.
The by-election will give the BPP, which has not contested any by-election post the 2019 general election, an opportunity to show its mettle as a coalition partner. BCP candidate, Oagile Wairi believes that he is ahead of the rest because his party clinched the ward in 2019.
"We have every intention to retain the ward,” Wairi said. Among his priority issues is the turning of the many open spaces in the ward into parks.
He is also concerned that there are no shops in the township which compels the people to travel to the town centre for shopping. Wairi would also like to build sporting facilities in the ward for the youth.