Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has intensified efforts to reclaim constituencies held by four Members of Parliament who were expelled by the party in 2022 after refusing to go against the coalition Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) caucus decisions.
The expelled MPs, among them the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse, Dr Never Tshabang of Nkange, Onneetse Ramogapi of Palapye, and David Tshere of Mahalapye remained under the umbrella when the BCP finally dumped the coalition. They will contest as direct members of the UDC in the 2024 general elections.
Even after expelling the MPs, to date the BCP remains adamant that they will win back the four constituencies in October 2024. However, a careful analysis of the primary numbers in these constituencies raises questions about potential split votes that could favour the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
In Nkange, where Dr Never Tshabang secured victory with 7 766 votes in the 2019 general elections against the BDP’s 6 806 and the Alliance for Progressives’ (AP) 1 458 votes. Over 3 229 members have participated in the BCP primary elections. This suggests a substantial number of BCP members who may have supported Dr Tshabang in the primaries, creating uncertainty about voting patterns in the general elections.
A similar situation emerges in Selebi Phikwe West, where Keorapetse triumphed in the 2019 with 3 987 votes against the BDP’s 2 537 and the AP’s 225 votes. In Selebi Phikwe, 1 581 participated in the BCP primary elections.
An ambitious bid for the BCP may be Palapye. In Palapye, won by Ramogapi in 2019 with 5 580 votes against the BDP’s 5 250, Botswana Patriotic Front’s (BPF) 1 791, AP’s 1 306, and an independent candidate with 57 votes, the number of BCP primary voters was 2 151 which further complicates predictions.
In an interview with this publication, the BCP spokesperson Dr Mpho Pheko expressed confidence about their prospects, stating that “We are gearing up for a robust and inclusive campaign, engaging with voters, and presenting our vision for a prosperous and equitable Botswana. The BCP is ready to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and we are confident that our commitment to democratic principles will be evident in the support we receive at the polls.”
Dr Pheko continued, ” The resonance of our message is gradually permeating the public consciousness, and we are hopeful that as we progress midway through the electoral journey, a significant number will have embraced our vision. We continue to baptize all those who share our vision.”
“While we acknowledge the complexities introduced by the departure of some members, we are heartened by the overwhelming support we have received during our primaries. We believe in the power of our message and the loyalty of our members to uphold the values of the BCP,” she added.
Regarding the potential for split votes among BCP members, Dr Pheko noted “Political landscapes are dynamic, and our members are discerning. We are confident that, come Election Day, they will rally behind the Botswana Congress Party. Our focus remains on delivering a compelling vision for Botswana’s future, one that resonates with the aspirations of the people.”
Observers acknowledge that much has transpired since the BCP fallout with the four members, potentially disrupting traditional voting patterns. The dynamics and shifting allegiances within the opposition will once again, according to political analysts, be the deciding factor.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.