Monday, September 21, 2020

Former civil servants to run against political veterans in BDP’s Bulela Ditswe

Former high flyers in the public service are expected to shed their pinstripe suits and jump onto the political bandwagon as they battle it out with veteran politicians in the up-coming Botswana Democratic Party Bulela Ditswe primary elections in the northern parts of Botswana.

Retired top civil servants, notably former Police Commissioner Edwin Batshu and former District Commissioner Sylvia Muzila, are expected to challenge seasoned politicians in the form of Ambrose Masalila and Tshelang Masisi for their respective constituencies.
Batshu will battle to wrestle the Nkange constituency from Masalila while Muzila will challenge Masisi and Peter Ngoma for the Francistown West constituency.

The BDP secretariat has confirmed that the two have submitted their names as parliamentary aspirants in the imminent BDP primary elections. Even before they publicly have declared their interest to campaign in the BDP primary elections, the two have, in the past, caused waves within the party as both incumbent MPs raised vehement complaints accusing them of launching clandestine campaigns to steal their constituencies.

Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that the two have speedily responded to the BDP’s call to arms after the party opened doors to allow aspiring candidates to register their names with their constituency offices.

There has always been no love lost between Muzila and Masisi as he has, in the past, bitterly complained that Muzila was using her position as District Commissioner to campaign in his constituency, an allegation to which she has not responded up to now.
Masisi, who has the backing of vocal councilor, Ignatius Moswaane, will have his hands full as he battles to parry challenges from both Muzila and Ngoma.
Factional disputes have also played themselves out in the BDP primaries as Ngoma is said to be pro the A team while Masisi is a Barata Pathi sympathizer. There is still uncertainty as to Muzila’s factional affiliation.

Political pundits have commented that Muzila managed to garner an advantage over Ngoma and Masisi because of her public service and HIV activities while she was District Commissioner. Another factor that is said to be giving Muzila an advantage is the defection of campaign manager and master tactician, Otto Masogo, who crossed floors to Muzila’s camp after Masisi failed to thank him with a special nomination council seat after he helped him retain his parliamentary seat against Ngoma in 2004.

At the same time others have dismissed Muzila as a newcomer who does not yet have the political savvy to outmaneuver gutter politicians and master tacticians like Masisi and Ngoma.
In the Nkange constituency, incumbent MP Ambrose Masalila will have his hands full as he battles to defend his constituency from former Police Commissioner Edwin Batshu.

Masalila has in the past written a complaint letter to the BDP headquarters alleging that Batshu was campaigning in his constituency even before the BDP had given the go ahead for campaigns.

Batshu denied the claim adding that he has no interest in the Nkange constituency but was faced with repeated pleas from the Nkange constituents who were courting him to stand against Masalila.

The BDP then sent a three man delegation to resolve the issue. BDP Deputy Executive Secretary, Fidelis Molao, told The Sunday Standard on Friday that the issue had been amicably resolved.

To add to the Batshu threat, Masalila’s problems in the Nkange constituency were worsened as some of his councilor’s openly defied him in the past.

“It is an open secret that BDP supporters in Nkange have wooed Batshu to stand against Masalila,” said a BDP insider in the Nkange constituency. The insider also revealed that Batshu posed a serious threat to Masalila mostly because he enjoys the backing of former Member of Parliament, Obed Chilume.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.