Controversy continues to haunt Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections dubbed Bulela-Ditswe in local lingo, as yet again there are fears of compromised elections next week Saturday.

Candidates in most of the constituencies that will go to the polls next week have expressed concern that the party might not deliver credible elections as the party leadership promised during a consultative meeting with candidates in Palapye last weekend. It has since emerged that the first date set for verification of voters’ roll has been missed as voters’ rolls failed to reach constituencies by the set date of Wednesday this week (the 15th August 2018).

Voters’ rolls were to be dispatched to the 40 constituencies for verification and be returned to the party head-office today (Friday 17th August 2018). After being returned to head-office the party’s National Electoral Board was expected to carry out an audit to ascertain that everything is in order.

“If we get the voters’ rolls a day later how are we expected to be able to have finished the process of verification and have the rolls returned? Remember this is not an easy process because there has to be names that are to be added and those that have to be removed from the voters’ rolls.

It means just running through the process with no vigorous scrutiny as should be the case because these are final voters’ rolls that would be used for voting on the 25th of August 2018,” said one of the Parliamentary candidates who preferred anonymity. Sources have indicated that the party should have secured a date later in November this year or next year between January and March.

The candidates believe the time that the party has put for itself after the postponement is too close while there is too much work that needs to be attended to. They have opined that what was announced at the Palapye meeting would not be achieved and the party would be in chaos due to compromised elections. Some within the party have also predicted a lot of court cases post the primaries. Over a thousand candidates for both Parliament and council seats are expected to tussle it out next week and each wants the playing field to be level. 

BDP Secretary General, Mpho Balopi has indicated that they are ready to deliver credible elections. He said the party is working round the clock to ensure that all the set out deadlines are met. He stated that most of the problems raised by candidates would be addressed through resolutions that were taken during the meeting at Majestic Five in Palapye.

 “We have decided that people who appear in the voters’ roll but do not have membership cards would be allowed to vote using Omang. This is because the number in the Omang card is the same that appears in the membership card. We have also set up our polling station in such a way that a person would not be able to vote more than once which is why we have also introduced the use of ink for the voters,” Balopi pointed out.

Balopi revealed that the Central Committee and Electoral Board has resolved that Political Education and Elections Committee and a special team will be assigned to attend unresolved complaints.

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will defend its decision to allow the candidacy of Moemedi Dijeng against the aggrieved incumbent Member of Parliament for Serowe West, Tshekedi Khama, who has since dragged the party to court.

Khama, who is also Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, has taken his party to court to challenge the candidature of one of his challengers in the constituency, Moemedi Dijeng. The case is likely to compromise the holding of Bulela-Ditswe in the constituency next week Saturday. The case was scheduled to be heard at Lobatse High Court on Monday this week but was postponed to yesterday (Thursday). 

Khama proceeded to court after BDP Central Committee refused to heed his demands. Khama would be defending his seat to represent the BDP in Serowe West in the 2019 general election against Dijeng and former Member of Parliament for Gaborone North and cabinet member Keletso Rakhudu. Khama had put forward demands under timeframes for Dijeng to be disqualified.

In a letter dated July 20th 2018, Khama gave BDP Central Committee three days to disqualify Dijeng. Failure by the party to act on the matter Khama said he would be left with no choice but to demand for the holding of extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council within Seven (7) days of receipt of the letter. Should this fail Khama posited that he would move an urgent application with the High Court to review Dijeng’s approval and interdict holding of primaries in the constituency. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said BDP as an entity would be taking the matter head on and is hopeful of victory.

He said it would be up to Khama as he is the one who alleges to prove his case. “As an entity we are ready to respond to the allegations. We are however not fighting the applicant. We would abide by any decision that the court would have handed down. We are a law abiding democratic party,” said Balopi at a press briefing in Palapye. Balopi expressed hope that the matter would be resolved before the 25th of this month, also stating that it would not be for the first time that the party faced a similar matter.

He cited the case which was brought by Whyte Marobela against the party and resulted with the party being barred from fielding a candidate at a by-election in Francistown West Constituency in 2013. The BDP would later win the case on appeal. According to Balopi, as the BDP they have followed the right procedure when dealing with Khama’s matter. Khama in a letter addressed to the party chairman Slumber Tsogwane states that, “it is the impropriety of the manner in which the approval of prospective candidates recommended by the Branch Committee in Serowe West Constituency was carried out by yourselves that has precipitated the delivery of this communication”.

Khama argues that Dijeng was once found to have contravened the BDP Code of Conduct. He stated through his lawyers in the letter that Dijeng candidacy has been approved, “despite the fact that the Disciplinary Committee of the very same Central Committee had on the 12th of June 2018, found the said Dijeng guilty of contravening Clause 16 of the party’s Code of Conduct for candidates in primary election stemming from a complaint raised by the Central Region Committee; and despite the fact that the central committee knew or ought to have known of this ruling not only because, in terms of the party’s procedures, all findings of the disciplinary committee are forwarded to it but also that our client made the Central Committee aware of such findings prior to the vetting process by handing copies of said Disciplinary Committee findings to both the party Secretary General and Chairperson.”


According to the minister, the Central Committee cannot exercise its powers or and functions beyond that which is prescribed by the governing law of the party. In doing so, Khama said it would be acting without legal authority and any decision taken that lack legal authority is illegal and is of no force and effect.

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factional wars have started to tear the party apart ahead of 2019 general elections, Botswana Guardian can reveal.


The party is divided in two with some supporting former president Ian Khama while others are fighting in the corner of President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The fight between the two factions has resulted in Bulela-Ditswe which was scheduled for this weekend being suspended indefinitely.


The BDP postponed the primaries on allegations of hacking of the party’s system. However, insiders have revealed that this is just an ‘excuse’ by those in support of Masisi as they want to re-strategise following a tip-off that the Khama-led team is also targeting candidates who are sympathetic to Masisi.  The regrouping is also for the Masisi team to consolidate power to be able to contain the situation even post primary elections.

The Masisi camp has also been targeting some of the candidates who were deemed to be anti-Masisi administration.  Mostly those on the Masisi hit list are those who were not supporting him last year when he contested the party’s chairmanship. Intelligence from both factions is said to be high with each trying to infiltrate the other.

The dismissal of the hacking according to insiders is on the basis that verification of voters’ rolls has been ongoing for the past three months with the involvement of Electoral Board and Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) deployees across the country. The entrance of Khama in the factional turf follows the ‘perceived’ frustrations and humiliations the former president has repeatedly suffered lately at the hands of Masisi.

Indications are that Khama had thought Masisi would be eating from his palm but after assuming the presidency of the party and that of the country, Masisi started cracking the whip on Khama’s administration. Masisi has since asserted his control and Khama, like any other citizen or BDP member, has to dance to his tunes. This is said to have angered Khama who has since launched a war on Masisi and his team. Khama is said to be consolidating power especially in the central district which is BDP’s biggest Region.

Khama has the advantage of being Bangwato Paramount chief to gain access in the region where he addresses Kgotla meetings and does walkabouts. The Khama factor is said to be causing BDP Central Committee, some ministers and Members of Parliament who want to survive Bulela-Ditswe, a serious headache. Some have allegedly called for the former president to be put on a tight leash before things spiral out of control.

Some Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers are said to have expressed concern over Khama’s latest conduct. It is alleged that this has made them to influence the postponement of the elections. Khama has already visited constituencies held by some key members of the party and Central Committee such as party chairman and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane who faces a tight competition in Boteti West and Deputy Secretary General and Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi who is also facing an uphill battle in his constituency. 

While the factional turf is getting nasty, it is said to have also hit Tsholetsa House where the voters’ roll and membership cards are made. Information gathered by this publication revealed that the party office does not make corrections to the voters’ rolls which were corrected by local structures, when they reach Tsholetsa House.  In the same fashion some voters have been blacklisted from the voters’ rolls even staunch BDP members.

The secretariat, together with some Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) members, have been accused of conniving to blacklist some voters. Some voters have been removed from the voters’ roll of a certain ward and moved to another ward which they do not reside in.  BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi has admitted that there has been a problem regarding the voters’ rolls. He has however maintained that there is no animosity between Khama and Masisi.

He said that just like other former presidents, Khama contributes to the party in any way possible. He said comments that are being made would not derail the BDP Central Committee from delivering credible elections.  He said as a party that has been in power for more than 50 years and has been delivering credible elections, they would not risk this time around to deliver compromised primary elections in the 40 constituencies. According to Balopi, Khama has a right to his opinion on how he sees things but as BDP they are prepared to win the 2019 general election with a convincing margin.


Balopi indicated that a meeting with the over 1000 candidates, central committee members, branch and regional leadership scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) in Palapye is expected to address all the issues including the issues of the primaries. He said expectation is that at the meeting the issue of hacking would have been handled and a new date of election communicated.

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As Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) conducts its last batch of Bulela-Ditswe next week it has emerged that women running for parliament might not survive the political storm, Botswana Guardian can reveal.


Unlike other political parties, BDP has no waiver for women and vulnerable people when it comes to contesting for political office. Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leads the pack in its affirmative action on empowering women for political office followed by the Botswana National Front (BNF).


Botswana has signed the SADC Protocol on gender equality, but the BDP government has made little effort to advance women to positions of political leadership. Under the leadership of BDP, Botswana has also not even met the minimum quota set out in the Protocol.
A careful scrutiny of parliamentary candidates by this publication has shown that Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcas Makgato tops the charts of those who will make it back to parliament.

She will be up against Specially Elected Councillor Kitso Seloma for Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency where she will be defending the seat.
Another possible survivor could be Kgalagadi North runner Talita Monnakgotla who is taking head-on area MP Itumeleng Edson Moipisi. Moipisi is also Assistant Minister of Land Management Water and Sanitation Services.

Monnakgotla, an entrepreneur, has made strides in the constituency winning the hearts of many while Moipisi was busy with government business as assistant minister.
Through her business she runs with her husband AT&T Monnakgotla she has been sponsoring school prize giving ceremonies at a tune of P4000. AT&T Monnakgotla also strives to create opportunities to help lift Kgalagadi youngsters out of poverty.

The company is also sponsoring an annual July football tournament for Kgalagadi and Gantsi known as KGAGA President’s Day Tournament which seeks to improve talent of the children in those areas so that they could compete with their peers across the country.


Monnakgotla is expected to bring hope to BDP women as the strong women of the BDP Botlogile Tshireletso and Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi are not contesting and have decided to hang their political boots. This development is likely to adversely impact the party that has been in power for over 50 years and preaches women empowerment while it has dismally failed within its internal development to at least have 30 percent of women making it to parliament.


As for Makgato, she has proven to be a force to reckon with ever since she made her mark in politics after leaving the corporate world. When she first contested during the 2013 Bulela-Ditswe she caused uproar when she sent a pool of men scurrying including the then area MP and Agriculture Minister, Oreeditse Molebatsi.


At that time Makgato was Specially Elected MP and Trade and Industry Minister.
Makgato cemented her power base within the BDP in 2015 when she was elected BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson in Lobatse. It was at the same elective congress where BDP women called for their increased participation in positions of leadership, decision-making and political offices so they could compete well with their male counterparts from primary to national elections.


She is the first women’s wing leader to have the BDP hold a general assembly of women from the 2nd to 4th of December 2016. The aim of the assembly was to create a forum for BDP women to discuss issues of concern in their empowerment. Makgato had explained that the general assembly is one of the commitments the women’s wing made upon assuming office in 2015 to create additional organisational structures at national level to ensure BDP women engage more regularly on issues of concern.


She was last year re-elected unopposed when the women met in Maun for the elective congress. At the constituency Makgato is said to have ensured that she takes onboard all the council candidates to work with her. She has also set up a campaign team to focus strictly on parliamentary campaign. News on the ground is that she will have an easy walk against Seloma.


Other women in some of the constituencies will face obstacles against their male counterparts some of whom have established themselves within the constituencies. The BDP has indicated that it believes in democracy and wants women to go through the same process as their male counterparts to gain confidence from voters for political office. The party has indicated that empowering women does not mean giving them a free ride.


Botswana is still far behind in getting higher numbers of women to occupy positions of leadership despite being hailed as a good example of democracy. Other countries in Africa such as Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are far ahead in terms of representation in parliament and cabinet.


Government has been condemned by the opposition for this indicating that some of the countries are now close to attaining the 50 percent mark while Botswana is nowhere close to even 30 percent. According to the opposition, this shows that the BDP government lacks commitment to women empowerment hence its reluctance to implement the Protocol.

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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.

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone South Constituency is marred by controversy as campaign teams jostling for the area clash on a collision course, Botswana Guardian has learnt.

 


The constituency will pit Gaborone- based lawyer Meshack Mthimkhulu with businessman Monametsi Kalayamotho in the contest for party representation. The party top brass have also been implicated in the matter as they are accused of having dumped Mthimkhulu for Kalayamotho.


Botswana Guardian understands that Mthimkhulu, who joined BDP from Botswana National Front (BNF) after the 2014 general election was promised that like most of the new recruits he would not be subjected to the process of Bulela Ditswe. Mthimkhulu contested the 2014 general election as an independent candidate after he lost BNF primary elections.


It is alleged that Mthimkhulu was at the time recruited to the BDP by Mokgweetsi Masisi who chaired the Communications and International Relations Committee and promised a clear ride as area Member of Parliament Kagiso Molatlhegi would not be seeking re-election.  Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are said to be close to President Masisi but the wind now seems to be blowing in the direction of Kalayamotho.


While having enjoyed the blessing from the party leadership both from branch level to Central Committee, tables turned against Mthimkhulu this year when Kalayamotho made his way into the constituency. It is alleged that Kalayamotho was tipped to challenge Annah Mokgethi who was recruited from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) but he was convinced to relocate to Gaborone South a constituency he grew up in. This was because Mokgethi was also allegedly promised not to be subjected to primary elections.
Now the opposing teams of Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are firing from all cylinders in a bid to have one of the candidates fall during vetting.

The duo has successfully managed to forward names for expression of interest to contest in the constituency before closing date a fortnight ago. Vetting is ongoing in the constituencies that would go for primaries in August this year including Gaborone South.
At the centre of controversy are accusations from both camps of campaigning before time.

Letters are flying from one office to the other as a smear campaign by both teams. 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.


Letters seen by this publication also question Kalayamotho’s membership transfer. The complainants argue that they sense the transfer was done under dubious circumstances. A recent Entrepreneurship Summit which Kalayamotho hosted at Old Naledi and Bontleng Halls on 17 May 2018 to reach out to the unemployed has also been cited as one of his campaigns for votes. He is said to have resorted to using such a stunt because he has arrived in the constituency late and is only using financial muscle to gain popularity.


On the other hand, 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 be campaigning by organising activities such as soccer tournaments and buying alcohol for constituents in exchange for them to register so as to vote for him.


It is also alleged that a WhatsApp Group page - a platform the BDP has indicated should not be used for campaigns - has been opened and is being used for campaigning. Candidates for the August 2018 Bulela-Ditswe will only be allowed to campaign after 13th July 2018 and will be allowed to use only house to house campaigns.


Kalayamotho told this publication that it would be against BDP rules and regulations to address the media on such matters. He stated that only the branch committee and secretary general would be in a position to comment. Regarding his transfer, he said he worked within the party rules and Branch leadership can attest to his claims. He told this publication that people are quick to run to the media to discuss internal affairs, which is wrong.


Mthimkhulu refuted claims that he has been campaigning in the constituency. He labelled this as a smear campaign to have him vetted out. “I have not carried myself in any manner that violates the BDP Constitution and or Rules and Regulations. I am also not aware of any complaint against me because even the Branch Committee. has not notified me,” said Mthimkhulu who referred further inquiries to the branch committee
Gaborone South Branch Chairman Alfred Moatlhaping said Kalayamotho followed proper channels to have his membership transfer. He said the complaints about Kalayamotho’s campaign were conveyed to the central committee and not the branch committee. “We would not address a matter that was not brought before my committee.

Those people flouted our rules and there is no how we could help them as the branch. So we will wait for the Central Committee to undertake its investigations and report to us the findings,” said Moatlhaping.
He pointed out that he has been made aware of a letter of complaint from Kalayamotho by the Branch Secretary. Moatlhaping said he has not seen the letter, adding that he would know the contents of the letter this week during a Branch Committee meeting.  Balopi has indicated that all complaints are directed to lower structures to address so that the central committee could deal with such matters at a higher level as appeals.


Balopi has revealed recently that the party’s Political Education and Election Committee is engaged in mass registration across the country and attending to constituencies that are marred by controversies regarding registration and campaigns. He said this is to deal with claims that some of the structures are captured by some of Bulela-Ditswe candidates.


Molatlhegi won the constituency in 2014 with 3,872 votes, followed by Murray Dipate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 3,629, Akanyang Magama of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with 2,318 and Mthimkhulu, then an independent candidate coming last with 1,475 votes.

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