The newly elected Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairperson has been accused of corruption and abuse of power following allegations that he engineered an unprecedented move in which his constituency office administrator and a specially elected councillor will swap places by the end of this month, Botswana Guardian has established.
According to highly placed sources, Tati East constituency office administrator Isaac Pelaelo, will become specially elected councillor in the constituency responsible for Tsamaya ward, while a specially elected councillor in the constituency Matthews Zibochwa will take over from Pelaelo as Guma’s administrative secretary. Though there is nothing legally wrong with the intended move, sources say that the decision is morally wrong. Botswana Guardian is reliably informed that the plan was hatched two months ago by Guma as a way to appease the two men – who are both alleged to be his key supporters in the constituency. Sources said that Guma announced the move at the party’s branch congress two months ago.
The two men, according to North East authorities, are serving resignation notices. It is said that in order to allow his administrative secretary to contest the 2014 general elections while at the same time drawing a salary from government, Guma asked him to resign from his post [office administrator] and in return he (Guma) would recommend to the Minister of Local Government Peter Siele that he [Pelaelo] be appointed specially elected councillor in the constituency. The Specially elected councillor Zibochwa – who was until recently, the BDP regional secretary for Francistown region, will make way for Pelaelo and further occupy the position of office administrator by 1st August, Botswana Guardian has established. Zibochwa had indicated that he was not going to contest the 2014 general elections.
This week Zibochwa confirmed that he had quit as councillor, but refused to say whether he was going to manage Guma’s constituency office. “If I am asked to manage the office, I will definitely take the offer. At the moment I have not been given the offer [by Guma],”said Zibochwa. Guma has however confirmed Zibochwa’s appointment to this publication. Pelaelo, according to sources, will take an oath as the new addition to the North East District Council in two weeks’ time. Pelaelo confirmed that he was resigning as office administrator to contest elections in Tsamaya village but denied that he will be named specially nominated councillor. Efforts to talk to Minister of Local Government Peter Siele were unsuccessful as he was said to be on sick leave, but his deputy Botlogile Tshireletso said that she was not aware of the arrangement.
The development has since incensed some BDP members who called it ‘abuse of power’ by Guma. Senior BDP members were this week suggesting that the move clearly shows that ever since he re-joined the BDP, Guma has become one of the few powerful BDP members. “Even before his recent election as the party chairperson Guma was calling the shots. Ministers, including Siele are yielding to his demands. Who else would engineer such move and get the full blessings of the minister? No ordinary BDP MP would do such thing. It doesn’t only take guts but the right connections,” said a BDP MP on condition of anonymity.