Stakes are high at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone South constituency as Bulela-Ditswe date draws nearer with fears that the election will be compromised.
Botswana Guardian has established that all is not well in the constituency as the voters’ roll is being contested by some candidates on grounds that there has been voter trafficking. News of trafficking broke out this week when verification was being done.
The two camps of Monametsi Abel Kalayamotho and Dumizweni Meshack Mthimkhulu, who are both vying for the Parliamentary seat, have for some time been at crossroads.
This has now affected the council candidates aligned to them. Information gathered by this publication is that two letters complaining of voter trafficking have so far been written.
“The election might not happen because some of the candidates are disgruntled and want the election for Gaborone South to be postponed. There are also claims that some of the people who have been registered do not appear in the voters’ roll,” said a source close to the developments.
This publication has it on good authority that members of Political Education and Electoral Committee (PEEC) tried to intervene on Monday this week with the aim of putting the matter to rest. It has since emerged that some of the candidates and their teams would not compromise and get along to participate in the elections. PEEC is expected to make its decision on the matter this week.
Some members are said to have called for recovery of all the books that were used during registration so that names could be cross-checked. However, the unfortunate part is that the former Branch Secretary, with whom the books were kept, passed away recently. Thus it has proved hard to have the books recovered. The PEEC meeting in the constituency follows another one which was held by Central Committee member Tebogo Masire last week.
During the meeting which was a pre-counselling for candidates, Masire appealed for calm and peace during campaigns. He implored the candidates to work together during this internal process so that at the end the BDP would be able to defend the constituency as a united force. He encouraged the candidates to reconcile following their recent complaints against each other regarding campaigns.
Gaborone South Branch Chairman Alfred Moatlhaping confirmed the complaints but stated that there is no how elections would not continue. He said what was missing was the master registration book.
“I have gone to the party office to look for the copy of the master registration book. I have managed to locate registration books which we would annex and avail to the candidates. I have the situation under control and everything will fall into place. We are going to the polls like other constituencies next week,” Moatlhaping pointed out.
Between April and June this year the two camps were firing from all cylinders in a bid to have one of the candidates fall during vetting. At the centre of controversy were accusations from both camps of campaigning before time. Letters flew from one office to the other as the smear campaign by both teams intensified.
Mthimkhulu’s team has written letters to BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi complaining that Kalayamotho, who transferred his membership from Gaborone Bonnington North to Gaborone South, engaged in early campaign by hosting activities at Old Naledi and branding and distributing t-shirts to constituents with the aim of luring them to vote for him in August this year. Letters seen by this publication also questioned Kalayamotho’s membership transfer.
The complainants say the transfer was done under dubious circumstances. An Entrepreneurship Summit which Kalayamotho hosted at Old Naledi and Bontleng Halls on the 17 May 2018 to reach out to the unemployed has also been cited as one of his campaign tactics for votes. He is said to have resorted to use such a stunt because he arrived in the constituency late and is only using his financial muscle to buy popularity.
Kalayamotho’s team has hit back and written to Branch Committee accusing Mthimkhuku’s team of applying underhand tactics to canvass for votes. Mthimkulu’s team is said to campaign by organising activities such as soccer tournaments and buying alcohol for constituents in exchange for them to register so as to vote for Mthimkhulu. It is also alleged that a WhatsApp Group page has been opened which is used for campaigning - a platform the BDP has indicated should not be used.