• Tshekedi’s loss could mark the end of Khamas’ dominance in politics
• Bangwato divided between BDP and ‘party ya ga kgosikgolo’ (BPF)
With two weeks left before the nail biting General Elections the die has already been cast that the influence and dominance of the Bangwato will be put to test in Serowe West constituency.
Last week Tshekedi Khama dropped the political bombshell and dumped his father’s party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and joined his elder brother former President Ian Khama at Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). The BDP acted swiftly and nominated businessman and Pastor Moemedi Dijeng as their parliamentary candidate.
This will not be an ordinary contest but a history making one as the constituency has always been the reserve of the Ngwato Royals for the past 54 years. If Tshekedi loses the constituency it will signal the end of their dominance in politics and they will be exiting the political scene in an ungraceful way.
The first Member of Parliament for the area was founding president the late Sir Seretse Khama and later taken by the Collen Blackbeard who handed the baton to his son Roy Blackbeard. In 1998 Blackbeard handed the constituency to Ian Khama who in 2008 handed the baton to his younger brother Tshekedi.
On the 23rd of October 2019, the history of the constituency will be tested if it can be broken. The campaign was tough and rigorous during the independence holidays with both parties the BDP and BPF not leaving any stone unturned. On the ground people are still divided between the BDP and BPF which they refer as ‘party ya ga kgosikgolo’.
While other parties have fielded candidates, the real battle will be between Dijeng and Tshekedi and whatever both of them will have made history. Dijeng if he loses will become the first BDP parliamentary candidate to lose elections in the constituency since 1965 while TK will become the first opposition MP in the constituency.
He became MP for the area in 2008 taking over from his elder brother who became the country’s fourth president. One of the then young turks within the BDP Gomolemo Motswaledi was advised not challenge TK in the primaries.
In the bye election TK garnered 1,869 votes whilst Botswana National Front (BNF) represented by the then Women’s League president Gagolepe Nthebolan trailed with a paltry 119 votes.
A very vocal person, TK was infuriated in 2013 when Prince Kgwaneng challenged him the BDP primaries and wanted him to be suspended as he accused him of flouting party rules and regulations. He sailed through garnering 3 081 votes against Kgwaneng’s 665.
Last year he took the BDP to court after he accused them of allowing Kgwaneng not to follow the party rules and regulations regarding the primary elections. He lost the case and many felt that he will bolt out of the BDP but stayed put. In the primaries TK sailed again getting 2,797 while Dijeng managed 1,594 votes a margin of 1203. Rakhudu trailed behind with 462 votes.
Though a member of the royal family TK has been accused by his constituents of neglecting them and this became evident when his brother campaigned for him during the BDP primaries. Residents of Dimajwe, Mmashoro and Malatswai complained that TK doesn’t visit their areas and is little concerned about their welfare.
The same concern was raised ahead of the 2014 general election and Khama assured them that TK will start consulting them. His main challenge will be in Serowe where he is not really popular due to his absenteeism in the constituency.
The party is still new and in a constituency which most of the voters have been voting the ruling BDP some unintentionally might tick the old box.
He is member of the royal family which is highly revered in GammaNgwato area and the influence of his elder brother Khama who is kgosi kgolo will tilt scale on his side. He will mostly get most votes from wards outside Serowe where his brother is being treated as a demi-god and his word treated as gospel truth.
Whenever the name is mentioned, Daisy Loo crops up as he once fought with Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) over the payment of bush clearing in Gaborone. After the case which he finally won, Dijeng turned to God and is now a pastor of a Pentecostal church in Serowe. He is not a pushover as he once challenged for the chairpersonship of the BDP at their elective congress in Mmadinare though not well known within the party. He became third with 69 votes.
Son to a former councilor and council chairman in Serowe who served under Blackbeard whilst he was MP, Dijeng is favorite amongst the youth and middle class.
He came late into the race something that might work against him as the constituency is vast and have to traverse it. Dijeng is facing a member of the Ngwato royal family and some view him as being rebellious and disrespectful to their chieftainship.
He is coming into a play into a political ground which former president Khama has thoroughly campaigned against the BDP.
Though he came late into the race, it has emerged that the BDP had already prepared the ground for the possible defection of TK. After Khama resigned from the party, BDP is said to have sent a team to assess the situation and do house to house campaigns for the party.
Dijeng has the support of the former MP for Gaborone North Keletso Rakhudu who is chairman of the Serowe Agricultural Show. Rakhudu is a well-known in Serowe as he is involved in various community projects and this can help Dijeng’s campaign.
Dijeng also has advantage of saying to the old democrats that he is there to protect the legacy of founding President Khama.