The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has blamed the 2014 delimitation exercise for its decline in popular vote. In an interview with The Telegraph, Shaw Kgathi, Chairman of the BDP’s Communications and International Relations Committee said the ruling party’s popular vote declined because many of the party’s supporters were disoriented and confused after the delimitation of their constituencies.
The work of the Delimitation Commission resulted in realignment of constituencies rather than creation of new ones.
“We are aware of factors that contributed to decline in our popular vote and performance at the polls. Some of the reasons emanate from production of a new voter’s roll for the BDP, a result of the delimitation exercise. We were working under pressure to transfer names across constituencies,” he told The Telegraph on the sideline of a BDP press conference recently.
Kgathi further explained that some voters were disgruntled after their preferred candidates were transferred to other constituencies following realignment of some constituencies.
“These people intended to cast their vote for our candidates and they were very unhappy when they were transferred. They ended up voting for candidates from the opposition. We are taking the decline in popular vote very seriously. We are plotting a huge strategy that will help us launch a huge comeback,” he said.
Kgathi expressed confidence that the BDP will overcome the 47 percent popular vote it recorded in the October general elections, saying their hope of a comeback is premised on past experiences. He explained that the BDP managed to stage a comeback and overcome the opposition in 1999 after it had increased its seats in the 1994 elections.
“We came back hard on the opposition. Our popular vote of 54 percent in 1994 increased to 57.15 percent in the 1999 elections. This is an indication that at times we experience these reversals. Our popular vote declined to 51.73 percent in 2004 but we bounced back in the 2009 election and increased to 53.3percent. The opposition has never had such an experience to use as a springboard for further achievement,” he said.
He added that history has always shown that success is always short lived in the opposition because it causes quarrels and results in splits.
“They always quarrel and split after succeeding. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will not be in shape in the 2009 elections. They are an unsustainable concoction and they will separate like oil and water before the next elections,” he said.
Kgathi added that the UDC will not last long because it doesn’t have an ideology that unifies it as a party, unlike the BDP which is bound by a desire to deliver quality services to the people.
“This is not to say that we have not learnt anything from the past elections. Right now we are undertaking introspection across the entire country. As you already know, we did not perform very well in the bye elections in Ngware, Moshupa and Goodhope,” he said.
Though he grudgingly admitted that the 2009 elections were competitive, Kgathi maintained that the BDP is plotting a major comeback that will make it the party of choice for Batswana. The party will host its National Council in March, Women’s Wing Congress in April and National Congress in Mmadinare in July.
“People will be jostling and competing for positions at these congresses, which sometimes breeds rivalry. But I am sure we will manage to come out a more united party,” said Kgathi.