After losing two council wards in the just ended by elections to the opposition, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is reported to be stuck between a rock and hard place as its members are refusing to settle for a compromise candidate in Tlokweng Constituency.
The party recently held a series of meetings in which it encouraged its members to settle for a compromise candidate to be fielded for the constituency by election but some members feel that “they should be given a chance to try their luck.”
The constituency fell vacant following the death of opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) Member of Parliament, Same Bathobakae. BNF is member of opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Other members are Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP).
On Friday Sunday Standard learnt that the Party leadership managed to convince Amantle Matlapeng and Akanyang Seitshiro to pull out of the party primary elections race scheduled for next weekend.
BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane confirmed the news but said the candidates who pulled out did that willingly and their decision should be respected.
“We still have some days before the party primary elections, who knows it might happen that by the time we reach that date we are left with only one candidate,” he said.
The Telegraph contacted Seitshiro who also denied that he was pushed out by the party leadership.
“That was a decision I made for the sake of peace. I am a born again and I love peace. I was not pushed by anyone to make that decision,” he said.
“The members who have shown interest were expected to have concluded negotiations to compromise and have one candidate to take on the opposition by midweek,” said an insider. She added that should the candidates fail to reach a compromise the party is likely to hold primary elections; something that it is trying to avoid by all costs.
The BDP is now stuck with three members, Elijah Katse, Thulaganyo Segokgo and Fenius Molefe
It is understood that the ruling party is concerned that should its members not reach a compromise chances of winning the by election are slim due to voter splitting by its supporters.
“There are fears that the events leading to the 2014 general elections which saw some disgruntled BDP members voting for opposition candidates could repeat themselves,” the insider said.
She was referring to the decision by supporters of Katse and his council candidates who allegedly voted for the opposition candidates after President Ian Khama suspended them (Katse and his council candidates).
In the 2014 general elections, under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ticket, Bathobakae beat Gaborone to win Tlokweng as she polled 6442 against her rival’s 3867 while a BCP managed 1195. The BCP is expected to support the UDC as talks between the two parties are expected to be concluded in the near future.
Initially, the BDP had allegedly made an attempt to lure the Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and Batlokwa Kgosikgolo Puso Gaborone to join the race for the Tlokweng by election. But it has since emerged that the talks bore no fruit as his subjects were divided over the issue and he gave the party a cold shoulder fearing a backlash from the tribe.