Vice President Ian Khama’s hopes and strategy for his party to win seats currently held by the opposition seem to be on the rocks.
This follows his failure to make headway in his attempts to distribute urban constituencies among the cosmopolitan elite of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
Investigations by The Sunday Standard have revealed that Botsalo Ntuane and Robert Masitara rank very high in Khama’s strategy to get the BDP win urban constituencies from the opposition.
If he had his way, Khama would have wanted Botsalo Ntuane to contest Gaborone West North, currently held by Botswana National Front Leader, Otsweletse Moupo.
The BDP structures in the constituency have, however, made it clear through a resolution already communicated to party head office that they prefer Masitara.
One of the reasons given is that Masitara has already started ground work in the constituency, not to speak of the fact that he gave Moupo a good run for his money in a by-election in the past.
Worse for Khama’s strategy, The Sunday Standard can also confirm that Masitara has turned down requests by Khama to stand in Gaborone Central where the Vice President thinks the flamboyant philanthropist stands a much better chance to defeat the Botswana Congress Party incumbent Member of Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando.
The resolution by the BDP structures in Gaborone West North, together with Masitara’s lack of interest to decamp to Gaborone Central has thrown the spanner into Khama’s plans.
The result could be that Ntuane would be well on his way to challenging Oliphant Mfa in Sebina/Gweta where some party members have been trying to interest him (Ntuane).
The locking of horns by Ntuane and Mfa would resurrect exactly the kind of ugly factional fights Khama is working restlessly to avert.
Both Masitara and Ntuane would not want to discuss with The Sunday Standard the outcomes of their meetings with Khama.
But the BDP Executive Secretary, Batlang Serema, shed light when he said it is natural that with the primary elections approaching there is a lot of internal lobbying going on inside the BDP.
He said the primary objective is to create as much consensus as possible to avert a repeat of the last batch of primary elections when the losers got so disaffected as to start backbiting the winners.
That cost the party as the opposition won some constituencies as a result of the disenchanted losers.
“The important thing to note is that in the end everyone is free to contest wherever they wish. But politics is all about lobbying and we should not be surprised that ahead of the December primary elections, there could be a lot of lobbying going on inside the party.”
Serema said, as leader of the secretariat, he is not involved in lobbying.
What Serema also confirmed is that there is a far reaching consensus in the Central Committee for the party to do everything in its power to take opposition held constituencies as well as improve on those the BDP holds with small margins.
“The party has discussed at length opposition held constituencies. We have also talked about the seats we won with marginal numbers.”
He said the BDP eagerness to perform better in those constituencies is shown by a deliberate decision by the leadership to hold early primaries therein.
There are also concerted efforts to encourage the emergence of consensus candidates with the aim of averting past incidents of infighting.