In conjunction with its new found ally of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the UDC consolidated its political base in the Philip Matante East ward by-election polling 530 votes against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s 391 votes.
Despite the massive human and financial resources that the ruling party deployed in the campaign to wrestle the ward, the UDC stood fast and retained the ward. The ward fell vacant following the sudden death of its councillor and former Francistown City mayor Shadreck Nyeku who had polled 554 votes in the 2014 general election against the BDP’s 418.
After the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane issued the by-election writ, the contesting parties engaged in a fierce campaign to win the ward. Buoyed by a recent win at Sekoma, the BDP roped in its former chairman and businessman Samson Moyo Guma to wrestle the ward while the UDC capitalised on its area Member of Parliament Wynter Mmolotsi to steer its campaign and retain the ward.
The BDP sent Peter Nare while the UDC was represented Uyapo Nyeku, a brother to the deceased councillor. Both parties engaged in a fierce campaign with the ruling party deploying its massive human and financial resources to capture the ward. The BDP campaign was bolstered by President Ian Khama and his vice Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Although conceding defeat, Nare claims that he lost the election as the opposition had voter trafficked in the previous election and continued to use the trafficked voters to retain the ward. Nare explained after the ballot count that his complaint to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over voter trafficking failed.
“I lodged an unsuccessful voter trafficking compliant with the Independent Electoral Commission which maintained that there was nothing it could as a complaint had not been lodged in 2014 to enable them to take action. As much as I concede defeat, I still maintain that there was a lot of voter trafficking hence my loss. We did all the best that we could but the incumbency factor worked against us. We knew that 250 people were not eligible to vote because they had had been trafficked from other areas but our plea was not successful before the IEC. We are nonetheless happy that democrats’ spirits in the ward were not dampened and we are certain that we are going to wrestle the ward in 2019,” said Nare.
The loser explained that although a misunderstanding ensued between Ford Moiteela and Francistown East Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane in which the duo exchanged blows, that did not distract his campaign as the issue was long settled before Election Day.
“Moiteela and Moswaane’s fight did not impact on the election outcome. The UDC enjoyed incumbency and that worked positively for them to retain the ward. However, we are warning them to know that we are going to sort them out in the 2019 general election. This is the last time winning this ward. In the future we will ensure that that there is no voter trafficking so that we are able to match them pound for pound. The UDC are cowards and we will do all in our power to ensure that in 2019 they do not traffic voters. It is unfortunate that there was nothing the IEC could do to help us despite our complaint,” said Nare who is optimistic that that they will do everything in their power to foil voter trafficking in 2019.
Nyeku has however dismissed Nare’s assertions as blatant lies because the UDC has evidence that it is the BDP that engaged in voter trafficking as they sent people with money to places as far as Orapa to bring in people to vote.
“It is surprising that Nare is accusing us of trafficking voters when he knows fully well that it is them who engaged in those practices. They sent one Matshediso P300-00 to come and vote for them in addition to other people from Matsiloje. He is just a bitter loser. He was desperate to win and fend for himself and not the people of Philip Matante East,” said Nyeku.
He said it is the BDP that used its financial muscle to buy voters but he is disappointed that despite their tricks they still lost.
“The BDP had no clear message of what they would do for the people of Philip Matante East. Right now we know they are not answering people whom they trafficked and are currently stranded in Francistown without money to back. This is just cheap politics aimed at tarnishing the name of our Member of Parliament Wynter Mmolotsi as well as our UDC party,” said Nyeku.
He added that his party is ready to defeat the BDP again in 2019 as the party has got no substantial message to win them voters.
“Nare is a desperate loser. We just hope he gets another chance to face us in 2019 where we will defeat him with an even bigger margin. He should know that we are not excited by this win and we are busy preparing for 2019. Our focus is to serve the people and not enrich ourselves as is the norm in their party whose vote buying is well documented. Nare should know that this is just the beginning and in 2019 we are going to thrash them with even bigger margins,” said Nyeku.
He explained that his focus is to represent the interests of the Phillip Matante East people who are unemployed and who are being punished for having voted the opposition by being denied developments. Nyeku added that he is ready to beat Nare again if he happens to represent the BDP in the coming election in 2019.
“They must just admit that after winning Sekoma, they thought they were going to repeat the same feat in Francistown South forgetting that the political landscape is not the same,” concluded Nyeku who is upbeat that his challenge is to deliver the promises they made to the electorate during the campaign.