The big fallout

Kabelo Dipholo
  • Buti Billy and FCC Mayor in political stand-off

After ten years in power, Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown East, Buti Billy could face his toughest test yet in the up-coming Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections.

Word on the political street suggests Billy will face a new threat in the form of long-time ally, Francistown Mayor, Godisang Radisigo, when BDP go to the polls – expected to be around August.

For the longest time the MP’s right hand man, Radisigo’s head has apparently been turned by some influential people in the constituency who want him to stand.

“I’m aware of his alleged interest. I’ve discussed this issue with him but he has denied it,” was Billy’s response when The Voice contacted him for a comment this week.

The Francistown East MP claimed he has gone out of his way to find someone to mediate between him and the Mayor but to no avail.

“I don’t want to say much. He’s the one who should respond to this allegation,” insisted Billy, who doubles as the Assistant Minister of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture.

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However, Radisigo refused to be drawn into discussing the rumour, which has been gathering strength since it broke late last year.

“I’m bound by party regulations not to say anything related to primary elections, or my interests if there’re any. As a councillor, my duty is to ensure the party retains the ward and constituency for the President,” continued Radisigo, declining to discuss the issue further.

While the Mayor remains tight-lipped, a source close to the pair told The Voice three councillors from the constituency have thrown their weight behind Radisigo, while two remain undecided.

“The MP is aware of this and has already identified candidates in four wards. Only two wards, Satellite South held by the Mayor, and Itekeng, held by Deputy Mayor, Lesego Kwambala, have no new candidates linked to the MP,” he said.

Francistown East consists of six council wards, all under the BDP.

Initially Central ward was captured by Alliance for Progressives (AP), but Councillor Lillian Griesmer has since defected to the ruling party.

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Ironically, if Radisigo was to take an interest in the F/Town East seat, he would be following a similar path to Billy, who served as the second city’s Mayor from 2005 – 2009.

Five years later, he outsmarted and defeated the then MP and current National Speaker, Phandu Skelemani, ahead of the 2014 general elections, where he was successful at the polls.

Billy defended the constituency in 2019 with an impressive 4, 636 votes, way ahead of the Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Morgan Moseki, who managed 2, 582. Theresa Mmolawa (AP) was a distance third with 415 while another former F/town Mayor, James Kgalajwe of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) garnered 348 votes.

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