In what is perhaps the toughest election in Botswana’s political history, an Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidate in a Central District constituency is complaining that, by some strange coincidence, male Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) agents have been romantically linked to some women in his campaign team for almost a month now.
The candidate sees this not as a romantic windfall for the party women’s wing female but circumstantial evidence of a well-coordinated infiltration operation. “By virtue of being part of the campaign team, these women have access to highly confidential information. They know what strategies we are going to use as well as where candidates would be at certain times. This is information that may well be passed on to the agents,” says the candidate, who spoke anonymously so as to not burn bridges beyond rehabilitation.
This issue was supposed to have been discussed at an indoor meeting but even among the most aggrieved, there is realisation that it touches upon a very delicate aspect of private life that can’t be subjected to official scrutiny. Then again, the boyfriends could be ordinary Romeos but the candidate says that their DIS-hood is not in question. The reason for that is that “with one police station and one hospital serving the whole community, this is a place where everybody knows everybody and where they work.”
Regarding the alleged political romance itself, he doesn’t expect it to last a day after the election day. “After the elections, the affairs will definitely end,” he says. However, if it is any consolation to this UDC branch, having DIS “brothers-in-law” has its benefits. In terms of the laws, political parties require a police permit to hold public rallies. The candidate says that thanks largely to the branch’s DIS connections, members have been able to get these permits in record time. Another UDC candidate in the district, Brigadier Iphemele Kgokgothwane of Serowe South, has offered his own tidbit.
In a campaign rife with talk of death, the former one-star general fed off this theme by telling a national radio audience during a live parliamentary debate on Gabz FM that he is willing to sacrifice his life in the process of fighting for the rights of his constituents. At least to certain pre-Facebook generations, Kgokgothwane’s army exploits are the stuff of local military legend. One account has him nonchalantly walking around the barracks with his pet lions in the same way that somebody else would have pet dogs trailing behind him on a cigarette run to the neighbourhood tuckshop.
Speaking last Wednesday on Gabz FM, Kgokgothwane said that as a paratrooper, he can jump out of a flying aeroplane. He was making a larger point about how someone of his bravery is suited to the turbulence of present-day Botswana politics.