Rakhudu, Dijeng used Tshekedi’s absence to entrench himself in constituency

20 Aug 2018

Candidate-subjects seeking to unseat the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism and future Bangwato kgosikgolo, Tshekedi Khama, as Serowe North West MP are said to have  a pretty good chance of not only doing that but making history as well.

Going back to 1965, no Khama has been challenged in the Botswana Democratic Party primary elections but as a sign of the times, Keletso Rakhudu and Moemedi Dijeng are making history as the first candidates to do so. Seretse Khama stood unopposed in the 1965 BDP primary elections as did his son, General Ian Khama in 1998, 1999 and 2004. In 2008, then Vice President Khama became president and Tshekedi replaced him as MP. The latter has himself never been challenged as a primary elections candidate.

Rakhudu and Dijeng are running against Tshekedi Khama in Serowe North West and are said to have made enough inroads in the constituency to cause the latter to enlist the support of his brother General Khama. Typical of his norm-busting style, the elder Khama, who is the Bangwato kgosikgolo, is using the kgotla to campaign for his Tshekedi. A fortnight ago, the brothers undertook a ward-to-ward tour of Dimajwe, Malatswai and Mmashoro. Tshekedi has not been visiting the wards as much as constituents would want and such concern came up during these visits. General Khama assured the constituents that from now on, he will ensure that his younger brother pays more regular visits. It is unclear why the voters would want to punish their MP this time around because for the past decade, he has never been paying that much attention to the constituency.

While Tshekedi has been holed up in Gaborone, which he has made his home and is also the seat of a government in which he is a minister, Dijeng and Rakhudu have been campaigning in the constituency. A BDP source says that too late did Tshekedi realise that Dijeng and Rakhudu had registered many more people to vote for them the primaries. The way this works is that a candidate and his campaign team go from house to house, registering party members who are issued with membership cards that they will use to vote in the primaries. Dijeng reportedly started his campaign last year around the time that the BDP was preparing for and holding its national congress in Tonota. With a decades-long history of silver-platter candidacy, Tshekedi wasn’t too concerned with any challenge until not too long ago. He has now gone to the Lobatse High Court to protest Dijeng’s candidacy. His case is that his opponent doesn’t qualify on account of having violated party rules. The other challenge that Dijeng, a businessman, presents for Tshekedi is that that he is unusually deep-pocketed and has been showing voters a really good time.

However, whether Dijeng gets to actually run against a candidate whom General Khama says could be the next Bangwato kgosikgolo if he doesn’t sire an heir depends on the verdict of the High Court case.