Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s strategy to go into the 2024 general elections in the North West region with a compromise deal brokered by the regional chairperson, Reaboka Mbulawa has fallen apart.
Mbulawa had courted former party secretary general, Jacob Nkate to contest in Maun West instead of his former stronghold, Ngami West to avoid a bitter primary election battle between Nkate and the former constituency MP, Thato Kwerepe who beat Nkate in primary elections only to lose the general elections in 2019.
Explaining why he had rejected Mbulawa’s game plan Nkate said in an interview this week, “I have taken the decision to stand in Ngami constituency.I do appreciate the interest of Maun West but I want to contest among the people that I know well, not that I do not know people in Maun West, but I am talking about political inclination.”
Nkate’s move has been viewed as a spit on Mbulawa’s face as he is the one who allegedly aroused Nkate’s interest in Maun West when he (Mbulawa) transferred to Maun East after failing to win Maun West for two consecutive election years, 2014 and 2019.
This past weekend, Nkate was actually in the region to make his decision known as both Ngami and Maun West are said to have asked him to represent them in the coming elections.
“I did not go there to inform them, but rather to hear them out, unfortunately Mbulawa was in Namibia and I could not meet with him. He is the one who had invited me to try Maun West,” Nkate noted.
So who will take on member of parliament for Maun West, Dumelang Saleshando of main opposition party, Umbrella for democratic change? Mbulawa claims that there are “lots of potential democrats,” who can stand against the parliament’s leader of opposition.
“There are lots of potential democrats including one heavy weight I wouldn’t mention now as the elders are still probing . It is the people’s will to have Maun West back into BDP control, they will settle for something that will work perfectly fine,” Mbulawa explained.
Asked about inviting Nkate to Maun West while he moved to Maun East, Mbulawa explained it this way, “I am a servant of the people as a regional chairman. I was only facilitating what the elders of Maun West wished to see happening as I was working with them for a full decade.”
He further explained that he arranged such consultative meetings with the political cadres and bogosi who are in fact still waiting for a response as Nkate had promised to come back to them then. I wasn’t the proposer but a facilitator.”
Mbulawa said he would have liked it had Nkate chosen Maun West over Ngami, “ Of course for me it would have been a great move as we need to regain Ngami constituency without its “generic” Nkate-Kwerepe factions stretching out each time after primaries.”
Nkate who is former Botswana ambassador to Japan was Ngami Member of Parliament for Ngami constituency since 1994 until 2009 when he lost to the opposition.
He however harboured a dream of returning to parliament in 2019 but that was dashed by the then Ngami constituency’s incumbent member of parliament, Thato Kwerepe who defeated him during the party’s primary elections, Bulela-ditswe a year prior to that.
However Kwerepe went on to lose to opposition’s newcomer to politics, Caterpillar Hikuama who is the current area MP under UDC.
BDP went on to lose all the four constituencies in the North West district including Maun east, Maun West and Okavango to UDC.
In preparation to win back the constituencies, BDP has since been trying to reinforce, strike a compromise and field their strongest candidates in these areas, albeit with a centre that is seemingly unable to hold and a game plan likely to fail as Maun East is embroiled in internal bickering’s.