The Botswana Congress Party is still reeling over the death of its founder member, Joseph Kavindama, and to-date has not yet identified a suitable candidate to fill the boots left by the former Okavango MP.
Kavindama, the former Botswana National Front Member of Parliament and the master-mind behind the formation of the BCP, passed away on the morning of June 21 at the Gumare Primary Hospital after a short illness.
“The BCP has not yet identified a suitable candidate to replace the political expertise and abilities of his stature. Party leaders and the Okavango committee will soon meet to decide the way forward,” says the Information and Publicity Secretary, Dumelang Saleshando.
The maverick and controversial Kavindama shot to political fame in 1984 after wrestling power from the traditionally BDP Okavango constituency under the opposition BNF banner.
Alongside the party leader, Kenneth Koma, and Maitshwarela Dabutha, the Okavango MP took the opposition BNF to greater heights in parliament, frequently dissenting with the ruling BDP policies and, in the process, gaining much reputation outside parliament.
Following the 1989 national elections, his popularity rose sharply.
However, political differences and bickering dominated the BNF resulting in most BNF parliamentarians deserting the party to form the BCP in 1998.
Led by Dabutha and Kavindama, the newly formed BCP contested the 1999 national elections only to register a dismal performance.
Of all the BCP parliamentary constituencies, Kavindama survived the chop only to be narrowly defeated by the incumbent Okavango MP, Vister Moruti, in the 2004 national elections.
Admits Saleshando, “Kavindama has been the stalwart and pillar of BCP. In the previous general elections, he was slightly ejected from the constituency. BCP has been consolidating power in the constituencies we slightly lost and Okavango is no exception. At the time of his death, he was a confirmed candidate of the BCP for the 2009 elections.”
Saleshando describes Kavindama as a true representative who, over the 20 years in parliament, steadfastly defended the interests of his constituents.
“At a time when he became a member of parliament in 1984, the constituency was largely regarded as a wildlife management area with little emphasis on the development of the basic infrastructure for the area.
“It was through his tireless campaign that government introduced policy reforms to ensure that the people of Okavango benefited from tourism and that the roads, schools and health facilities were developed. Okavango has now become a better constituency for its human inhabitants because of the efforts of comrade Kavindama.”
Saleshando asserted that Okavango for a long time has been the centre of the development of opposition politics in Botswana.
“Kavindama was voted to parliament as a member of the BNF in 1984. In 1998, together with 11 other BNF MPs, he formed the BCP. In 1999, he contested elections under the banner of the BCP and defeated both BDP and BNF. He was the first to win a parliamentary seat using the BCP ticket.”
He added that Kavindama assisted the opposition to grow in stature and confidence by ably representing the Okavango constituency for two decades when it was generally the norm that rural constituencies “are traditional bases of the BDP”.
Kavindama was scheduled to be buried yesterday (Saturday) at Kauqwi, his birth place.