Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) were dealt a heavy blow when all of their vibrant and young councilors in Gaborone and surrounding areas lost elections.
Araft Khan of Borakalalo ward in Molepolole, Kagiso Thutwe of Village ward, Olebogeng Kemeso of Bontleng ward in Gaborone South, Phenyo Segokgo of Sefoke ward in Tlokweng and Galaletsang Mhapha of Kubung ward in Maun West all lost their respective wards to the Botswana Democratic Party in the 2019 general elections which have changed the geography of Botswana politics.
This unexpected election outcome has weakened the voice of opposition in councils in Gaborone and semi urban areas surrounding the capital city.
Thutlwe was the Mayor of Gaborone while Segokgo was Council chairman of South East District.
Although Mhapha was a councillor for ten years, it was his first time to contest under the opposition party ticket, which proved to be disastrous for the young politician.
The defeated group was apparently groomed as the next generation to run for parliament in 2024 elections.
According to an inside source Mhapha was to take Maun west, Thutlwe was earmarked for Gaborone Central, Segokgo for Tlokweng while Khan was set for Molepolole North.
Commenting on his loss, Khan said his arrest by the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) a week before election contributed to his loss.
My issue with DIS killed me.
BDP used it to de-campaign me.
My political rival told old people that I was removed from the ballot because I had a criminal charge hanging over my head, which was not true at all.
The IEC voters roll was a mess and the presiding officer had an ulterior motive.
At one point he even confiscated the voters roll that was being used by my polling agents, I have worked hard in my ward and had I not been harassed towards the end, I would have won.
Khan made headline news a week before the elections for allegedly stealing voters’ personal information such as phone numbers and home addresses from IEC.
Meanwhile, Botswana Democratic Party’s Chairman of Communications Sub Committee, Kagelelo Kentse said that the sweeping off of Council wards in majority of the areas was one of their campaign strategy that they didn’t reveal for fear that it may compromise their chances.
“We targeted the youth and the working class as part of our strategy. They have appreciated President Masisi’s reforms and commitments hence our historic win in Gaborone, Lobatse and Tlokweng,” added Kentse who was certain of victory as the ballot counting continued.