A number of Botswana Democratic Party political heavyweights in Francistown have fallen prey to the party’s stormy bulela ditswe primary elections, and will not feature in the October general elections.
The bulela ditswe primaries caused a lot of discontent in the BDP, resulting in the party attaining a record number of independent candidates, most of whom left in disgruntlement citing gross irregularities in the way the elections were run.
There is a general consensus among some democrats that the primary elections are prone to manipulation and have frequently been used by influential party members to purge unwanted elements and push factional interests.
Former mayor Peter Ngoma‘s political future looks bleak after he twice lost to incumbent Francistown West MP Tshelang Masisi. Ngoma first lost to Masisi in 2004, when he was Francistown Mayor, in a bruising primary election that was laced with tribalistic insinuations. He would later be returned to the city council as a nominated councilor. But he is now politically unemployed after once again succumbing to Masisi’s political prowess in the August primaries.
A hardworking A-team lieutenant, the outspoken Ngoma, who is regarded by many within the BDP fold as a shrewd politician and a master tactician, has repeatedly maintained that he will bounce back to the political limelight, and many believe that he has retreated to circle his wagons and plan his next course of action.
Ngoma paved the way for the then still wet behind the ears Buti Billy’s rise to the political hall of fame, ceding his satellite ward to him and making forays into Masisi’s backyard where he was virtually unknown. As a nominated councilor, he was Billy’s key ally, assisting him to depose Ignatius Moswaane in the race for the mayor-ship of Francistown.
In Francistown East, Phandu Skelemani’s former campaign manager Anthony Chebani succeeded in snatching the council seat from incumbent Rebecca Nshakazhogwe.
The latter was once the deputy mayor and it is widely believed that she will never be able to make a comeback in the central ward. The youthful Chebani, on the other hand, is expected to bring a breath of fresh air into an otherwise lackluster city council. It is also believed that he will challenge the once formidable Billy for the mayoral seat.
In Francistown West, former deputy mayor Angelina Sengalo has also bounced back to reclaim her council seat from Esther Mokgosi. Sengalo is also expected to challenge Lamodimo Dikomang for the deputy mayor position, especially after she was recently boosted by her election to the chairmanship of the BDP women’s wing.
However, the most conspicuous absence in the general elections will be that of political firebrand Ignatius Moswaane. The former Francistown mayor is the only one who has repeatedly challenged Buti Billy for the mayoral chain. However, his efforts were undone by the factional fights that engulfed the BDP and the party caucus system.
Frustrated by what he called the undemocratic nature of the caucus system, Moswaane would later join forces with opposition councilors to shoot salvos at the BDP, saying that the party caucus system denies both democrats and opposition members from freely electing a mayor of their choice. A staunch Masisi supporter, Moswaane earned himself the wrath of the A-team councilors in Francistown, who reported him to the central committee for insulting president Khama and airing the party’s dirty linen in public.
He was ousted in the August primary elections by nominated councilor Baboni Mosalagae. His subsequent efforts to protest Mosalagae’s win drew a blank, and he resigned in frustration to stand as an independent candidate.