If what the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s factional spin doctors and strategists are saying is anything to go by, then minister of Foreign Affairs and MP for Mahalapye West, Mompati Merafhe, might not be in parliament after the 2009 general elections.
Information passed to The Sunday Standard reveal that some BDP activists at Mahalapye are lobbying and campaigning against Merafhe’s candidacy in Mahalapye West and have, instead, approached long time radio journalist, Esther Kanaimba, to topple the former army General.
Insiders reveal that many had thought that after the 2004 elections, Merafhe would not stand but when they learned he had intensions of standing again in 2006, the disappointed are understood to have joined forces to rally behind Esther Kanaimba. The campaign is reported to be rigorously on track, especially in the Herero Ward where Kanaimba comes from.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Merafhe confirmed that he was aware that there was some campaigning going on in his constituency.
“It is still too early for me to say anything about the primary elections but I am aware she is campaigning in my constituency,” said Merafhe. “I don’t want to do anything that would be seen as sabotaging her campaign.
“She is entitled to exercise her democratic right by campaigning and I have no problem with that as long as all the party’s laid down procedures and rules are followed,” Merhafhe said.
Asked if the plot to oust him from the Mahalapye West constituency was indeed a ploy by the Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe faction members, he replied, “We have no factions in the BDP so I would rather say she is being promoted by people who are not my friends. Naturally, it is supposed to be like that in politics.”
Allegations point to some members of the BDP plotting to oust the party strong man citing his age and lack of development in the constituency as a result of the MP’s commitment to his ministry and to the party. Merafhe, however, dismissed all this as just cheap talk from his rivals, adding that Mahalapye Village was getting developed at an amazing rate.
“I am not taking this thing lying down,” he said. “I have my own strategies.” In the run up to the 2004 elections, Merafhe silenced many when he garnered 2000 votes while his challenger got 76.
“Let them campaign; I am a liberal democrat and I strongly believe no election can be won or lost along tribal lines,” he said.
When contacted, Esther Kanaimba said she was utterly amazed and shocked that there are allegations flying around saying she was out to oust Merafhe.
“This is totally untrue, I don’t know anything about a campaign. If people are campaigning for me, they can continue to do so but I am not campaigning because I am still on my job,” she said. “I might and I might not, but it is so much in the future that I have not even considered it.
Merafhe and I don’t have any problem; he is a big brother and right now is concentrating on the job.”
This adds to three the number of constituency plots and rifts that have been riddling the party’s internal politics as party members try to position themselves just ahead of the upcoming party primary elections.
Already, MP Botsalo Ntuane and assistant minister Olifant Mfa are in a tug of war over the Nata ÔÇôGweta constituency while Francistown West MP Tshelang Masisi is allegedly under siege from Francistown District Commissioner, Silvia Muzila and University of Botswana, deputy dean of the faculty of Education, Dr Paul Chakalisa, who are all keen to replace the ailing Masisi.