The President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change, Duma Boko, will launch the candidacy of the party’s parliamentary candidate in Boteti West, Sam Digwa, this coming Saturday.
Digwa, who will face the incumbent, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane in the October general election, has already been publicly endorsed by former President Ian Khama. The latter is on the record as saying that he wants Tsogwane to lose a seat he has held for 20 years now. For some two or so months now, there has been speculation that Khama would launch Digwa’s candidacy. However, on Friday, Isaac Bonang, the Secretary of the Boteti West Constituency Committee, confirmed to Sunday Standard that Boko ÔÇô not Khama ÔÇô will launch Digwa’s candidacy at Xhumu village.
“We have asked that the Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando, should also attend the launch,” Bonang says.
What he says next is even more interesting. Without much mainstream-media fanfare, Khama travelled to constituency to endorse Digwa’s candidacy. This endorsement has three layers of complication. Firstly, Khama endorsed Digwa as Bangwato “kgosikgolo” (meaning supreme traditional leader) and not as an opposition leader. Ordinarily, traditional leaders don’t endorse political candidates but historically Khama has always been a norms-breaker. Secondly, Khama has just formed a new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front, after leaving the Botswana Democratic Party which his father and founding president, Sir Seretse Khama, co-founded. BPF doesn’t have a formal working relationship with UDC, which is a loose coalition of opposition parties. Thirdly, the meeting to endorse a political candidate by a kgosikgolo happened not at a kgotla (the latter’s seat of power) but at an open-air political rally and from Bonang’s description, the audience was made up of morafe(subjects) from different political parties.
The rally almost didn’t happen because, according to Bonang, the local headman and district officer sought to block it and the police granted a permit at the “last hour”. Bonang says that a huge crowd turned up and that Khama himself addressed the crowd, the gist of his message being Digwa’s endorsement.
The former president is unhappy with the treatment that he has received from Tsogwane ÔÇô whose boss, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, no longer sees eye to eye with him. Where discretion would have been more ideal for a person of his stature, Khama has publicly stated that wants to ensure that Tsogwane loses in the upcoming general election.
A situation a lot similar to that of Boteti West might well occur in two other constituencies where Khama also has scores to settle: Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Bobonong, both of which are in the Central District. Khama has publicly vowed to ensure that the Sefhare-Ramokgonami MP, Dorcas Makgatho, loses in the general election. To that end, Khama has endorsed her main opponent, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang of the Botswana Congress Party, which also a UDC partner. In Bobonong, Khama is believed to have helped Francis Kgoboko defeat incumbent MP, Shaw Kgathi, in the BDP primary elections. Khama now wants to punish Kgoboko for siding with Masisi.