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Home » News » Politics » Voters reject Saleshando, BCP

Voters reject Saleshando, BCP

Publishing Date : 21 April, 2016

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

  • Election Hitlist sends BCP president packing
  • UDC dominates Gaborone and surroundings
  • BCP insiders are on panic mode over rejection
  • Strong showing in rural areas wins BDP elections
  • Duma Boko set to become Leader of Opposition

The leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando was the biggest causality in the 2014 general election after his party embarrassingly lost out the majority of constituencies it held after the 2009 general elections.


By the time of going to print Gaborone Central constituency was a headache for Saleshando as rookie candidate, Phenyo Butale of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was giving the BCP leader a run for his money.


Butale and Saleshando were almost neck-and-neck at the time of print; BDP’s Rupert Hambira was a distant third. Butale joined the Gaborone Central race two months before polling day after the unfortunate death of UDC deputy president, Gomolemo Motswaledi in a car accident. Butale has made it a point that he hinges on the sympathy that comes as a result of Motswaledi’s death. He has projected his message through the UDC platform in “continuing Motswaledi’s journey”.


The resounding defeat across the country has embarrassed BCP supporters and many are already calling for introspection.


Saleshando was a target of the biggest labour Federation, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) which accused him of betraying the workers struggle by refusing to be part of the Umbrella project. The Federation released a ‘hitlist’ on the eve of the election calling on Batswana not to vote for Saleshando because he is an enemy of the workers and was helping to keep the BDP in power.


The BCP as a party has also emerged as the biggest loser in this election. The BCP has surrendered more than 75 percent of the constituencies it held before the election. All indications at the time of going to press pointed towards a shrinking Dumelang Saleshando led party.

In 2009 when the party went into elections, it was led by Gilson Saleshando, Dumelang’s father. Observers are quick to point out that BCP insiders will be worried that Dumelang’s leadership has seen the party’s fortunes dwindle.  


Indications were that the BCP had surrendered Chobe and Ngami constituencies to the BDP after winning them from the BDP in 2009. The presence of the UDC in some of the constituencies ensured that votes were split in favour of the BDP. University of Botswana lecturer, Prof Monageng Mogalakwe observes that the strength of the two opposition parties made vote splitting a likely scenario.


In Gaborone the BCP was literally wiped out, losing at Parliamentary and Council wards. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was the biggest beneficiary of the BCP poor showing in the capital city. The UDC will control Gaborone City Council because it recorded a majority of victories at local government level.

In Kgatleng West where the BCP had a Member of Parliament in Isaac Mabiletsa who had defected to the BCP from the Botswana National Front (BNF), voters also kicked out Dumelang Saleshando’s party.  Isaac Davids looked set to be on his way to the National Assembly on account of splendid performance by his council candidates.


To compound BCP problems, the party was not in a shape to cement itself in Francistown. Based on its strong showing in 2009 general election, coming second behind the BDP then in the Francistown South and Francistown East constituency, pundits had expected the BCP to win at least one of the parliamentary seats. The party had lost the majority of council seats to the BDP and the UDC. The BCP was only certain of Parliamentary seat from Okavango and Selibe Phikwe West.


Losing BCP candidates will benefit from an initiative by the Botswana Council of Churches in which pastors have been deployed across the country to counsel candidates. Pastors are concerned that if losing candidates do not receive professional help, they may fail to contain the emotions that come as a result of losing elections. This is in recognition of the costs that come as a result of campaign for a hotly contested election like this one.


BDP lost some, regained some
Despite losing seats in the cities, the BDP compensated by regaining constituencies like Ngami and Chobe from the opposition BCP. The BDP failed to retain Mephato Reatile’s seat in Jwaneng Mabutsane which they benefited after the former MP ditched the BNF citing internal differences over Umbrella party issues.


The BDP also lost Tlokweng to the UDC. The BDP had taken control of the constituency after Olebile Gaborone, the former MP, defected from the BNF to the BDP.


By the time of going for press there were clear contests between the UDC and the BDP in constituencies such as Gabane-Mankgodi, Mmopane-Lentsweletau, Molepolole North and Molepolole South and Lobatse among others. The BDP was however on course to a clean sweep in constituencies in the central district. The three Serowe constituencies, two Mahalapye constituencies, Palapye, two Tswapong constituencies, Tonota, Tati East and Tati West, Nkange, Shashe West, Goodhope-Mabule and Francistown West were almost in the bag for the BDP.
 

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