Sunday, September 27, 2020

Opposition parties should rally behind BCP in Tonota North

There will be by-election in Tonota North where a Member of Parliament will be elected to fill in the space created by the death of Honorable Baledzi Gaolathe. In the last general elections, two main political parties battled it out in the race to win the parliamentary seat. I’m not sure if Botswana People’s Party and MELS took part in the last general elections in the Tonota North constituency.

However, I’m very sure that the BCP and BDP took part and the latter won through Rre Gaolathe while the former came second through Dr Hubona. At the time, the Botswana Movement for Democracy was not yet born, only it was clear the party was in the offing as President Khama continued to sideline Barata-Phathi sympathizers in his campaigns.

As it is right now, all opposition parties, including the newly formed BMD (I keep forgetting BMD is in opposition), should have no illusions of ever defeating the BDP single-handedly. We need to be happy that opposition parties are alive to this reality.

However, we also need to be worried about what opposition parties are doing to tackle this reality. Only a fool would want to remain forever in opposition and harbor no intentions of being in government. Luckily I do not see such fools in the current opposition parties.

Though the BDP is on a crusade of self-destruction, the party will remain in power until and unless opposition parties realize the need to work together. For as long as opposition party leaders do not impress upon their members, the importance of opposition cooperation, they may as well forget about ever sleeping in the State House and the portrait of one of them ever appearing in our 10 Pula notes.

They will never know the inside of OK1, the presidential jet. If they have no such ambitions then opposition parties are a waste of our hopes and allegiance. Truth be told, I do not want to support a political party that has no ambitions of being in power.

Back to Tonota North. It is obvious the BDP will field a candidate as they try to retain the constituency that only slipped from their hold through the passing on of Rre Gaolathe. It is also a given that the BCP will, as they have done in the past elections, field a representative. The BCP will be in no predicament in identifying a candidate as their tenacious Dr Hubona will be available.
Now the question is, should all other opposition parties field their candidates and reasonably expect to snatch it from the BDP and BCP whose past records point to humongous support from the electorates? The BMD is relatively new and it is difficult to gauge its support base in the area but one can, with certainty, say the BMD has support in Tonota North. Why? Well, Ndaba Gaolathe, the son to the late Rre Gaolathe, is a member of the BMD and it is safe to say he has followers in Tonota.

In fact I’m still angry at death for taking away Rre Baledzi Gaolathe during the time when the political landscape was taking an interesting shape with expulsions and defections from the BDP.
I may be wrong and Rre Gaolathe’s family will forgive me but I have a feeling had he fully recuperated and came back to Parliament, the principled Rre Gaolathe would have seen the need to shift political allegiance and join his son at the BMD.

I’m not so familiar with Tonota North politics and, like I said, I cannot say how much support the BMD wields in that constituency. In fact, apart from Ndaba Gaolathe, I do not know other people in that constituency who can represent the BMD.

Please get me right because I am not implying there are no other persons apart from Ndaba. No, all I’m saying is I’m still to know them. Now the question is, will Ndaba Gaolathe stand and reclaim his father’s constituency under the BMD ticket? I have his mobile number but I won’t call to get an answer from him.

Instead, I will just offer my unsolicited advice. It is just short an advice. Ndaba Gaolathe should not stand in the impending by-elections. The BMD should not field a candidate in the Tonota North by-election. The BMD is appealing and honestly the easily sellable party at the moment but it should not try to gauge its strength through the Tonota North constituency. The BMD cannot afford to lose elections on its first attempt. That will be embarrassment of highest decree.

The BMD constitution, policies and manifestos are still being fine tuned and will be endorsed by the congress and as such it can only be ideal for the BMD to shelf its ambitions of having an MP elected under their banner, for now.

The other political party that needs to seriously consider its position in the upcoming by-election is the Botswana National Front. I have read some reports indicating that the BNF wants to field a candidate.

This should get all those that preach opposition cooperation worried. Remember that the BNF did not participate in the last general elections in that constituency and therefore it boggles the mind and it’s unfathomable as to what inspires them to stand this time around.

Let’s face it, it is their constitutional right to field a candidate but if the BNF is really committed to opposition cooperation they will have to forgo their right to stand and yield for the BCP.
The BNF must remember that the nation still has a grudge on them as it is widely believed they are the ones who thwarted previous attempts to opposition cooperation. The BNF must swallow their pride and rally behind the BCP. Afterall they have nothing to lose there. If anything they stand to gain as a win for BCP will be a win for opposition representation in parliament.

The BNF leadership should look beyond personal gratification when handling the upcoming Tonota North by-elections. The BNF should be seen to be in the forefront of the battle with the BDP. Is the BNF so used and obsessed with being in opposition so much that they can ruin and block all avenues to topple the ruling party?

Perhaps we’re just making noise to the BNF while they have no intentions of ever ruling this country. If that is the case, then the BNF should come clear about its stance on opposition cooperation so that other parties can stop barking and begging for their contribution.
If our opposition parties are eager and ready to work together and prove that opposition cooperation is the only route out for the BDP, they need to seize this moment. It will be interesting as to who the BDP will field amongst the many interested individuals.
There are at least nine names being touted around as the likely candidates in the BDP camp. There is also talk of a compromise where the BDP will just handpick a candidate without going for primary elections. The fact that there are many people aspiring to represent the BDP puts opposition parties at an advantage.

Obviously those who will lose the primary elections or not handpicked by the BDP top brass will be disgruntled. There is nothing more pleasant than to compete with a team of disgruntled players.
The losers and their supporters may choose to vote for opposition out of dejection and as way of protest. How sweet it was going to be were these disgruntled people have to only choose between just one opposition party and the BDP.

The BDP is a party not in good health and it will be disappointing if the combined opposition fail to prove their mettle and take the Tonota North constituency.
I challenge opposition parties to prove that they have one common enemy and that they can assemble their ammunition and strike in unison. [email protected]

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.