A number of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) bigwigs in the northern region could fall by the wayside in the party’s primary elections to be held next year as new entrants plot to oust them from their constituencies.
Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that plans are afoot to dislodge some parliamentarians from their constituencies come 2013.
“It is an open secret that some political aspirants within the ruling party ranks are working day and night in preparation for the primaries. As is party custom, their campaigns are not yet public because the top hierarchy has not yet opened up the campaign for the primaries,” said a source close to one of the aspirants who wants to dislodge current Francistown East Member of Parliament and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani.
The aspirant, who is currently a councilor in one of the wards, is understood to be mobilizing all the necessary resources to ensure that he gives the incumbent a run for his money come the primaries.
“The councilor is not hiding his aspirations. He has already started behind the scenes work to ensure that by the time the party opens up the campaign, he is well ahead. Even Skelemani himself is aware that he is skating on thin ice on the back of the impending challenge from the councillor,” said the BDP insider who did not want to be named.
He said that the councilor is capitalizing on Skelemani’s constant absenteeism from the constituency.
“As foreign affairs minister, Skelemani is hardly in the constituency to address the concerns and plights of his electorate. The councilor is using Skelemani’s absence to shore up his campaign within the BDP circles in the constituency. He has gone to the extent of trying to convince the electorates that they need a change of guard since their representative (Skelemani) is always away on parliamentary, ministerial and official duties outside the country,” said the source who is close to the councilor and part of his campaign team.
Sources in the Tati West constituency also point to concerted efforts by some political aspirants who have already shown keen interest to challenge incumbent Charles Tibone should he want to cling on.
“There are a number of aspirants in that constituency. Some are on the verge of quitting their civil service jobs in preparation for the primaries. Others have already relocated from their erstwhile constituencies to go and slug it out against Tibone. The former cabinet minister is aware of the impending challenge. His constituents are guessing on whether he is still content to run for the constituency. The fact that he has resigned his cabinet post could also be an indication that he wants to pass the baton. How soon seems to be the intriguing question,” said another BDP insider in the Tati West constituency.
“There is a feeling among some of Tibone’s constituents that the incumbent as a businessman is too busy in his businesses at the expense of his electorates. Thus any aspirant on the ground would no doubt give the incumbent a run for his money,” said the source.
It is not only Skelemani and Tibone whose political futures may be in limbo on the back of anticipated stiff challenge once the BDP primaries race is officially declared.
Francistown West MP, Tshelang Masisi, who was recently involved in a car accident on the A1 road in the Serule area, is among the list of MPs whose tenure could come to an abrupt end in the primaries.
The Sunday Standard has it on good authority that at the time of the accident, Masisi was on his way to officially inform his electorates in the Francistown West constituency that he would be seeking another parliamentary term in the BDP primaries. It is now not clear whether Masisi, who is understood to have sustained a broken leg in the accident, would want to continue with politics after recovering.
Another MP in the northern region whose constituents are guessing on his political future given his advanced age and deteriorating health is vice-president and Mahalapye West legislator Mompati Merafhe. Speculation is rife that the veteran politician is preparing to leave politics at the expiry of his current political term.
Meanwhile, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Ponatshego Kedikilwe has officially announced that he is quitting active politics at the dissolution of parliament in the run up to the 2014 general election.