Mohammed Khan, who was the campaign coordinator for the Botswana National Front at the just ended Letlhakeng West by-election, has spoken of how his party never stood a chance against the well resourced and well-financed Botswana Democratic Party campaign machine.
In the end, the BDP emerged victorious with a margin of over 340 votes.
“I often felt I was fighting with a knobkerrie against somebody holding a machine gun against me; a scene very much similar to what you always see on television where Palestinian children are forced to throw stones at Israeli warships,” Khan said in an interview with The Telegraph.
He said while his party and their alliance spent a maximum of P120 000, information from top ruling functionaries has put the BDP budget for the by-election at P1.9 million.
He said even the little money that the BNF was able to raise arrived at the scene when the campaign was almost coming to an end.
“I literally had to go round begging. The candidate coughed up something as did Gomolemo Motswaledi and a few activists.”
Painting a different picture of the BDP campaign, Khan said one could see from miles off that the ruling party had come to make a statement.
While the BNF could only afford six beasts for the duration of the whole campaign, the BDP, he said, was able to feed multitudes on a daily basis.
“The BDP did not just have money, they had all resources. People in that constituency are very poor and they were very happy to be fed by the BDP. From the look of things, everybody on the BDP side was well mobilized; from ministers to Members of Parliament to councillors. We could feel the BDP might. The ruling party would book an entire school, paint it red and supply people with meals all day long.
Khan says he doubts the ruling party will be able to commit the same amount of resources to Letlhakeng West during a general election next year.
“The people they were giving food everyday will be demanding the same next year. I doubt they will be able to repeat it because the campaign then will be nationwide,” he said.
While outsiders have estimated the BDP expenditure to be somewhere around P2 million mark, the party’s secretary for publicity committee, MacDonald Peloetletse, has said it would be difficult to tell how much money had been spent because each of the wards in the constituency had its campaign team that was responsible for raising and soliciting funds.
Peloetletse said the party head office only helped on such matters like fuel “and food where necessary”.
He said the BDP strategy was to choose┬ácampaign managers who then were response for coordinating funding for the wards to which they were attached.
“They raised money from friends of the BDP. Some of the people who financed the campaign are well-known BDP members. Some of them also happened to have been chosen as campaign managers for various wards,” said Peloetletse.