Opposition politicians, especially within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), have been warned against being overly excited about overtures extended by former President Ian Khama towards them as that could cause irreparable divisions within the coalition.
Many have been celebrating ever since Khama announced last week at a meeting in Serowe that he is going to campaign against some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidates. To many this will automatically translate into an endorsement and easy votes for the opposition candidates. However, political analysts have warned that an endorsement of UDC candidates by Khama could have a negative ripple effect on some members of the coalition. “The question is, have the UDC leadership consulted the general membership regarding the envisaged partnership since they are the voters? Mind you, some of these members joined opposition parties because they were against Khama’s administration. How do they feel about him now?” observes University of Botswana academic Leonard Sesa. He further warns that even Khama should tread carefully in his actions, lest he alienate Masisi further and destroy anything left of the relationship between them. Sesa opines that should Khama fail to dethrone Masisi, the latter could become emboldened to take more stringent measures gainst him should he win the 2019 national elections.
Political commentator, Ndulamo Morima, shares similar sentiments. He warns that Khama’s endorsement of UDC candidates in the Central district has the potential to divide the coalition because some members, especially in the Southern part of the country, might not be comfortable with the arrangement as they do not want to associate with the former president. “Politics is the art of the possible. Those in the central district might benefit from his popularity in the area but that might come at a cost for the party in other constituencies,” he said.
Morima said some people, particularly in the opposition ranks, still view Khama as a dictator whose presidency was riddled with corruption and trampling of civil rights. Therefore enlisting his support could be construed as an endorsement of his 10 year tiranny.
“Embracing Khama is a double edged sword despite that for the BDP it will come at a huge cost in the Central district where he is a paramount chief. Obviously he commands a lot of following from his tribe as clearly demonstrated at last week’s consultative meeting ,” Morima observed.
Khama’s 2019 General elections hit list of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidates whom he said have betrayed him include Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, cabinet minister Dorcus Makgato and Bobonong parliamentary candidate Francisco Kgoboko.
Addressing a meeting in Serowe last week, Khama said he is going to visit their constituencies and instruct the electorates not to vote for them. “I don’t like people who use me to attack President Mokgweetsi Masisi and then turn around and endorse him. No! They are very dishonest and must be voted out,” he said to the ululation and whistling from a packed Serowe showground.
Khama who had Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi’s political scalp after he campaigned against him during the BDP primaries in Bobonong, now has turned the heat on the man he campaigned for, Francisco Kgoboko. During his one hour long speech, he mentioned Kgoboko’s name more than 10 times and said very soon he will visit the constituency as it falls under his tribal territory.
Tsogwane- Boteti West
Khama who was seething with anger said one of the people who have changed for the worst is Vice President Tsogwane and does not deserve to be voted back to Parliament.
“When I was still the President, Tsogwane was a humble person and very respectful. I was shocked when I heard he was campaigning against me during a meeting in Palapye,” said Khama. Therefore he will be going to Boteti West constituency to inform the electorates, whom he refferd to as his subjects, not to vote for Tsogwane.
Interestingly one of the speakers during the day was UDC Parliamentary candidate for Boteti West Sam Digwa who also took a swipe at both Tsogwane and President Masisi for not respecting Khama.
In the 2014 elections BDP retained the constituency by 5790 votes while Sam Digwa of UDC garnered 5549 with Tjiliga Letsholo of BCP getting 622 votes.
Makgato – Ramokgonami/Sefhare
By his facial expression, Khama felt really betrayed by Makgato whom he regarded as a confidante. Khama revealed that Makgato is one of the ministers who wanted him to drop President Masisi as VP.
Ahead of the BDP Presidential elections in Kang, Makgato was one of the campaign managers for former cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who had been endorsed by Khama. Makgato ditched the Moitoi camp after realising that the faction was just pushing an agenda for Khama in his battles with Masisi over a succession dispute.
Khama was caught by surprise when Makgato announced that the BDP Women’s Wing had resolved to support and endorse the incumbent, President Masisi against Moitoi. Attempts to trash such declaration, under claims that the Women’s Wing had never met to discuss the issue, could not hold. Makgato had swayed a whole constituency of women behind Masisi, delivering a major blow to Moitoi’s campaign.
“I have a farm of oranges in her constituency. I am going there to tell the voters not to vote for her because she is cunning and not trustworthy,” said Khama.
Khama has already started de-campaigning Makgato in the constituency as he has openly endorsed UDC candidate Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang. In 2014 Makgato walloped Gobotswang by 7459 votes against Gobotswang’s 5907 votes.
He will be making a maiden appearance at the general elections after he dethroned Kgathi during the BDP primaries with the help of Khama. The primaries were not without controversy as the BDP Central Committee ordered a rerun, which Kgoboko initially refused saying there were plans to cheat him.
Betrayal: Khama revealed that Kgoboko came to him crying saying President Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane wanted to cheat him during the primaries in favour of Kgathi and begged for his support. “I said okay I will support you. I went to campaign for him and he eventually won. When they called for a re-run he again came to my office and I told him to accept the re-run as he will emerge victorious again,” revealed Khama.
To his utter shock, the former president said, a few days later he saw a video of Kgoboko endorsing Masisi. This, he said, is the worst dishonesty.
Performance: He garnered 4,212 votes against Kgathi’s 1,811, beating the latter by a 2,401 margin where 6,023 BDP members cast their votes.
Although Khama did not mention the name of the candidate that he will endorse against Kgoboko, those close to him said that he is going to endorse Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidate Taolo Lucas. Khama is expected to organize an event in the constituency where he will call on the electorates to vote for Lucas. This is the modus operandi he used in Ramokgonami/Sefhare when he recently endorsed Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang of UDC.
In 2014 BDP through Kgathi retained the constituency by 7350 votes while BCP through Lucas who is going to stand for elections for the fourth time garnered 7230 votes. Kgaugelo Machete of UDC came distant third by paltry 162 votes.