There is a rising concern that the upcoming by-elections at Shashemooke will cause a conflict amongst opposition parties, thus increasing the unlikelihood of opposition unity in 2014.
At the core of the matter is the issue of two opposition parties vying for the same by-elections, while other parties are divided on which party they should support.
The Botswana People’s Party (BPP) and the Botswana National Front (BNF) are the two opposition parties that have both decided to field a candidate to contest the upcoming by election in Shashemooke.
The BPP has since sent out letters to other opposition parties soliciting for support.
Of late, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which does not have a candidate at the area, has decided to throw its weight behind the BPP candidate, Silent Tlale, instead of the BNF candidate, Obakeng Moumakwa.
The seat was left vacant after the passing away of the serving Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councilor, Alleluya Mathumo, late last year.
The BDP won the seat during the 2009 elections, by then, the BCP still had no candidate there, but both the BPP and the BNF were running. The BPP had garnered more votes than the latter.
Taolo Lucas, the BCP spokesperson, said their decision to support the BPP was because the party had written to them asking for support, and after considering their request in terms of merit, they had decided to back them up.
“The decision was taken on account of the fact that among the opposition parties that contested the ward in the 2009 General Elections, the BPP polled the highest number of votes,” said Lucas. “We do not envisage any conflict arising because there has been no agreement that parties will support one another and we believe that the intention behind opposition co-operation is bigger than one by-election here and there.”
Moeti Mohwasa, the BNF Publicity Secretary, said that the decision of the BCP to support the BPP will not in any way hinder their intention to field their candidate. He said that the decision to field their candidate was not based on what the BCP and other parties said rather it was based on what they wanted as a party.
However, he stressed the fact that the BCP is well within its right to stand behind whichever party it preferred.
“We are still standing at Shashemooke, and no, we do not think that our decision to stand will wear down opposition co-operation in the future. First of all, there has been no agreement of such nature at Shashemooke,” said Mohwasa.