By the time I wrote this piece to beat the submission deadline, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Presidential candidate Rre Mokgweetsi Masisi had not been declared the winner by the Chief Justice. But the writing has been on the wall since the release of council results particularly in the southern part of the country in which the BDP swept the stakes. With this in mind, it is fair to congratulate President Masisi and the BDP for winning this election. More importantly and particularly, I wish to congratulate Mrs Makwinja, Mrs Monnakgotla and Mrs Mokgethi for winning as female directly elected Members of Parliament given the historical and cultural barriers that have stood in the way of aspiring female candidates across the political divide. Well done bomma.
The first interesting political outcome is that the BDP has captured almost, if not all the seats that were held by opposition parties albeit with a big margin particularly in the southern part of the country. And the captured seats would in large measure be those considered traditional stronghold of the opposition. It looks like the electorate in the southern part of Botswana were locked up in a room and given strict instructions to, without fail, vote for the BDP at council and parliamentary levels. The election results pretty suggest this. On the other side, the opposition itself captured some seats previously held by the BDP particularly in the Central district-Shoshong, Palapye, both Mahalapye constituencies and others.
The second is that the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) senior partner in the form of Botswana National Front (BNF) performed so poorly that none of its parliamentary candidates not least its President Advocate Duma Boko defended their seats. Instead, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidates (though elected on the UDC ticket) did very well in the northern constituencies. It would appear the BCP candidates were at the right constituencies at the right time. If these candidates were in the southern Botswana, it goes without saying that they would have lost as well given the tsunami the BDP unleashed on its opponents. It is breathtaking.
Thirdly, the Masisi and Khama magic came in the open to determine the election outcome as has been suggested before. The Masisi magic worked wonders in the southern constituencies though it is evident in other parts of the country. And his magic dealt a fatal blow to the opposition even to those like Rre Ndaba Gaolathe who were not in the Masisi/Khama conflict. The Khama magic did not work as well as was expected. It worked well through the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) where it became evident by its casualties. But it was a hollow victory as it was not able to inflict a fatal blow to the BDP. I have argued before that the UDC took a political risk by associating itself with Lt Gen Khama and which risk could benefit or not the UDC. And as it is known, any risk has two distinct outcomes- good or bad. It is a known fact that Khama was not embraced by all in the opposition and this fact will be debated in future as the ultimate defining factor that caused the UDC to perform so poorly and badly in this election particularly in constituencies considered its traditional stronghold.
Fourthly, the voting pattern in this election somewhat replicates that of the 2014 general election dubbed moono in which the then UDC parliamentary candidates received huge margins as well. In that election, it was suggested that the UDC received sympathy votes from the BDP members who suspectedly, were not happy with their party for one reason or the other. In this election, it is safe to conclude that the vote from the then aggrieved BDP has been returned to the BDP perhaps in the most pronounced and fatal fashion than it was in 2014. This returned vote could be premised as is widely suggested, on the charm offensive of Masisi which I must state without flinching, worked for him big time in this election. It is expected that most if not all the ingredients of his charm offensive are delivered without fail.
Lastly, the issue of the North/South divide is suggested by some to have played part in this election. While I personally do not have tangible reasons to support this suggestion or not, the pattern of voting particularly in southern Botswana could be the reason that gives credence thereto. It will be remembered that the North/South divide came to the fore during the Masisi/Khama standoff where suggestions of who the authentic Motswana is in the political and socio-economic discourse of the country. Some Batswana have raised concern in the North/South issue and the sooner a dialogue of some sort in this respect is convened, the better for it to be nipped in the bud for the benefit to the greater society. If Botswana assumes a denialist approach thereto, it could prove fatal to the moral and political fibre of this Republic. This by any measure is an outcome completely undesirable.
When all is said and done, this election has produced interesting political outcomes. It is fair to argue that an election by its very nature will always produce intriguing outcomes and by any measure, this one is no different. Congratulations are in order for President Masisi in particular and the BDP in general. I stand to be persuaded as always. Judge for Yourself!
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