Things are this week expected to come to a head at opposition parties’ cooperation talks when each party will put on the table the names of constituencies they want to be allowed to contest on behalf of the collective umbrella.
Information released so far indicates that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Movement For Democracy (BMD) are headed for a showdown.
The tussle for constituencies threatens the negotiations.
Except for Gaborone Central, BMD wants all Gaborone and Francistown constituencies.
On the incumbency principle, BMD wants to represent the Umbrella at Lobatse, Gaborone West South, South East South, Francistown South, and Kgatleng West.
However, on its wish list based on the 2009 general elections, the BCP wants its candidates to contest Francistown South, currently held by BMD‘s Wynter Mmolotsi and South East South which is represented by another BMD MP, Odirile Motlhale.
The BCP lost the Francistown South constituency by 5.8 percent and the South East South by less than 3 percent.
Under potentially winnable constituencies in which the opposition gunned less than 40 percent of the total popular vote in the past general elections, the two parties will slug it out for at least 8 constituencies that the BCP strongly feel it should contest because it came second to the BDP in the 2009 general elections.
These constituencies are Maun West, Francistown East where the BCP’s Morgan Moseki lost to minister Phandu’s Skelemani by about 9 percent, Selebi Phikwe East where Nzwaligwa Nzwaligwa came second by gunning 3170 against BDP’s Nonofo Molefhi who got 3717.
BMD has proposed that it be given Palapye, a constituency that the BCP feel it can win since it lost by 1380 votes.
The trouble for BMD is that if the 2009 general elections results are used as criteria for distributing constituencies then it will emerge from the talks the poorer as it has not much to show stemming from those elections.
The two parties are in disagreement over who should contest Gaborone North, Kweneng South East, Gaborone West North and Mogoditshane. For these constituencies the BCP feels it should be given the leeway because it lost them marginally while the BMD is of the view that placing too much reliance on the 2009 general elections could distort the equitable distribution of constituencies among the cooperating parties.
In its pack of least winnable constituencies, the BMD is looking to oust Kitso Mokaila from the Barolong constituency and also field candidates for Moleplole North, Ngwaketsi South as well as Gaborone South.
Perhaps expressing some lack of faith in their own project, neither of the two parties wants to be given a chance to tackle the ruling party’s strength at its heartland like Serowe and Mahalapye East.
At the time of going to press the Botswana National Front (BNF), a key player in the talks, had not compiled a list of constituencies it wants to contest under the Umbrella arrangement.
Nonetheless, the party is expected to lobby for traditional southern constituencies, including Gaborone South, Kanye North, Kanye South, Ngwaketsi South and Ghanzi constituencies.
The BNF is also eyeing Shoshong, Tonota South, Boteti area, Lethakeng West and Lethakeng East.
On the other hand, the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) also at the talks is expected to propose that it be given the Tati East and Tati West constituencies.