The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition partners are headed for a showdown after Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) rejected a constituency exchange request put forth by Botswana National Front (BNF), The Patriot on Sunday has learnt.
The dispute revolves around the Mmadinare and Goodhope-Mmathethe constituencies, which were recently allocated to the BPF and BNF, respectively, in the concluded coalition constituency allocation exercise.
Responding to The Patriot on Sunday, Lawrence Ookeditse -the BPF spokesperson confirmed that a formal request has been received from the BNF for a constituency exchange. However, he denied that a formal response has been sent to the BNF, emphasizing that consultations with constituents are still underway.
“We are still consulting the constituents and are yet to respond to the BNF. It is not true that we have responded,” said Ookeditse. Despite this official stance, sources within the National Executive Committee (NEC) revealed that the matter has been deliberated upon, and a decision has been made to reject the request.
NEC insiders, who preferred to remain anonymous, disclosed that the committee believes it would be too risky to trade the constituency currently held by the BPF, as the party has already established a significant presence in the area. “We have rejected the request. We will be responding to the BNF soon,” affirmed an NEC insider.
The BPF’s rejection, according to our source was based on several factors, among them, their fears to jeopardize their established support in Mmadinare, especially if there is uncertainty about the level of support they would receive in Goodhope. “Despite being in a coalition, each party involved is prioritizing its own stronghold constituencies and may be unwilling to compromise on territories where they already have a significant presence,” said our source.
The BPF asserts that the BNF should have pursued such negotiations during the initial coalition discussions. The rejection adds growing tensions to the ongoing discord surrounding constituency allocations, further highlights the challenges faced by political parties in navigating coalition dynamics.
Game of numbers
Goodhope Mabule, the contested constituency allocated to the BNF, has witnessed political fluctuations in recent years. In the 2014 general elections the constituency was won by the UDC through James Mathokgwane, who later resigned to take up a government post at SPEDU in Selibe Phikwe as the Regional Director for Economic Diversification. Mathokgwane had secured victory with 6 712 votes against Kitso Mokaile’s 6 101 votes.
Following Mathokgwane’s resignation, the UDC sought the candidature of the constituency’s paramount chief, Kgosi Letlaamoreng II, who retained the constituency in 2015 by garnering 6 152 votes against Eric Molale of the BDP, who secured 4 372 votes. However, the political landscape shifted in 2019 when Molale secured a decisive victory with 9 844 votes against UDC’s Dr. Patrick Molotsi, who received 5 935 votes.
Both the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP), who recently left the UDC coalition, and the Alliance for Progressives (AP) have shown limited visibility in the constituency, never accumulating over 1 000 votes.
Mmadinare constituency, which has been allocated to the BPF, has proven to be a battleground in past elections. In 2019, while the BDP’s Molebatsi Molebatsi emerged victorious with 6 847 votes, the UDC’s Mokwaledi Bagwasi secured 3 980 votes. The BPF’s Felicity Keleeme followed closely with 2 301 votes, and the Alliance for Progressives’ Motshereganyi Madingwane trailed with 555 votes.
A cursory examination of the data indicates that the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is likely to have a more favorable electoral outlook in Mmadinare compared to Goodhope-Mabule, considering their historical performance. However, members of the Botswana National Front (BNF) in Mmadinare insis that they maintain higher visibility in the constituency than the BPF. They express apprehension that the BPF might exploit their presence in Mmadinare, potentially using them as a steppingstone in the political landscape.
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