The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has reportedly lost faith in its candidate for Letlhakeng West constituency, Ngaka Ngaka and has been making frantic attempts to recruit Botswana National Front (BNF) candidate Filbert Nagafela ahead of the 2014 general elections. Information reaching Sunday Standard indicates that BDP operatives have been holding clandestine meetings with Nagafela in a bid to cajole him to defect to the ruling party and replace Ngaka, who is an incumbent in the constituency.
Sources have also revealed that the ruling party has lost faith in Ngaka and is very desperate to lure Nagafela onto their fold, at least to ensure that they hold on to the constituency.
Ngaka became Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng West in the by-elections that followed the passing of Maxwell Motowane.
In those by-elections, BDP garnered 3437 votes while BNF got 3096 votes after a protracted electoral battle in which the labour movement had thrown its weight behind the opposition. However, sources have revealed that the BDP’s fortunes have been dwindling ever since the by-election victory as many within the constituency have lost faith in both the party and its candidate.
“The party has really lost faith in Ngaka. They know that if they don’t replace him they are going to lose,” said a source.
President Ian Khama has also been drawn into the fray as he has reportedly expressed worry about the party’s electoral prospects in Letlhakeng West. BDP insiders have revealed that Khama has privately indicated that the BDP cannot afford to lose Letlhakeng West after ploughing massive resources in the constituency during the by-election.
Information reaching Sunday Standard also indicates that BDP went out of its way to make Nagafela a generous offer, which he declined, insisting that he was loyal to the BNF. The Letlhakeng West by-election was fiercely fought by the BDP, which ploughed massive resources into the constituency and unleashed its financial and ground force muscle to take on the power of the combined opposition and labour unions. At the time, Khama reportedly instructed cabinet ministers to descend on the constituency to help prop up the ruling party’s electoral fortunes.
In the end the BDP won the day and ushered Ngaka into parliament. Sadly for the ruling party, Ngaka has been on a downward spiral ever since and he has been a prominent feature in the news for the wrong reasons. The opposition is said to be riding on the negative publicity that has besieged Ngaka’s private life and painting him as an irresponsible individual to the conservative electorates of rural Letlhakeng West.
Worse, said BDP insiders, this is over and above the fact that it being a general election, Ngaka does not have the luxury of hogging all of the BDP’s resources as he did during the by-election when he was the only centre of attention.
“The general elections demands serious political clout and shrewd maneuvering. Ngaka is now left to fend for himself as no personnel and financial resources have been channeled to him alone. He now has to share resources with other candidates throughout the country. His task is made even more difficult by the fact that he was recently in the news for the wrong reasons after being accused of fighting with his wife in public.
That on its own is seen as a threat to his chances of retaining the constituency,” said the source.
However, reports indicate that Ngaka has since made peace with his wife.
Asked to comment on the allegations, Ngaka said he was not aware of any meetings between Nagafela and a BDP delegation. He said he was confident that he would retain the constituency as his campaign was going well. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi also said he was not aware of any efforts to recruit Nagafela.