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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Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will not publicly state its stance on the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), Botswana Guardian has learnt.

What has been communicated by the newly-elected BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi after the congress is that the party will allow Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to execute its mandate in so far as elections are concerned. 

This has attracted conclusion that the BDP approves of the EVMs, which came as a result of amendment to the Electoral Act. The introduction of the EVM has resulted in Botswana Congress Party (BCP) lodging a legal suit against the use of the machine in the coming 2019 general election. 

BCP and Botswana National Front (BNF) who are contracting members of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Conferences held in Francistown and Kang respectively have rejected the EVM. BNF resolved to reject the EVM in its entirety no matter what form it comes in. 

Its President Advocate Duma Boko said whether with paper trail or not they would not accept the EVM. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi stated that the party’s elective congress has decided to allow the IEC to do its job.

“It is up to the IEC to decide whether to use the EVM or the ballot paper or even both. Let us allow the IEC to deal with the matter, as they are the ones seized with the matter. The EVM is not our doing, it is the IEC’s”, said Balopi when addressing the media for the first time since assuming office early this month. BDP has been accused of not making a pronouncement on the EVM.

The party first discussed the EVM during its National Council held in Gaborone in March this year where IEC made a presentation. It was agreed at the council that the IEC should make another appearance at the Tonota elective congress early this month. At the congress democrats called for improvements to be made in the use of the EVMs so as to have fair and credible elections.

Some people in areas which the IEC team has visited, to consult on the introduction of the machine were skeptical about the machine. The argument has been that no consultation was done with the electorate who are directly affected by the introduction of the EVM. 

EVM has sparked controversy, as there are claims that the machine could be manipulated during elections. There have been calls for a voter verifiable paper trail (VVPT), which is basically a record of how votes were cast. EVM Unit Coordinator Gabriel Seeletso is currently compiling a report on his consultative meetings with Batswana.

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Wednesday, 05 July 2017 21:41

At cross roads...Will they come out united?

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will from today (Friday) colour Tonota red during its Elective Congress.

The congress is expected to usher in a new leadership that will carry the party to the decisive 2019 general election. An interesting and fierce battle is expected for the party chairmanship and for the secretary general posts. 

Party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi is defending his seat against Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi. For the Secretary General seat, Botsalo Ntuane will face-off with former Secretary Generals of the party - Mpho Balopi and Jacob Nkate.

Read more in the latest publication of Botswana Guardian

 

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 10:07

BDP top brass push Nkate out of race

 

Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) aspirant for the position of Secretary General, Jacob Nkate finds himself between a rock and a hard place as he has been pushed into a corner by BDP top brass, Botswana Guardian has learnt.

 

Nkate a former Botswana Ambassador to Japan this week was at pains to explain to his supporters across the country and in Ngamiland his ambitions for the party’s central Committee position. Botswana Guardian is reliably informed that during his campaign meeting in Ghanzi on Sunday, Nkate had to explain to those who had pledged support for him to contest for the Secretary General position as to why he had pulled out. 

 

This followed the Ngami Branch Congress this past weekend in Kareng where party chairman and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi told the congress to vote Nkate for additional member position in the Central Committee. Masisi who will be defending his position as party chairman in the coming elective congress billed for Tonota from 7th to 9th 2017 endorsed Mpho Balopi for the position of Secretary General. 

 

During the early days of campaigns Nkate was associated with Masisi’s lobbylist but the relationship between the two broke down following media reports that after the BDP Tonota Congress Nkate would run for presidency. Early this year Nkate and Masisi were said to be in talks with the aim of rejoining forces. During this past weekend Ngami Congress Masisi made it clear who his favourite for the Secretary General position was. 

 

According to reports by government publication The Daily News Masisi told delegates that Balopi is a team player and would be able to connect BDP with other parties internationally. He asked democrats to vote Nkate as additional member. According to sources Nkate who was present at the meeting was shocked to hear the Vice President’s statement. 

 

It was after this meeting that Ngami councillors who support Nkate and not Balopi for secretary general position, demanded answers. During the Women’s Wing Congress in Maun this year Ngami councillors were among the democrats that brokered a deal between Nkate and Masisi to work together. The statement is said to have taken them by surprise, as Nkate had not communicated this with them. 

 

A campaign team meeting is said to have been held on Tuesday night where Nkate had to give reassurance about his position. It was after this meeting that it was further discovered that the party top brass is pushing Nkate out of Ngami Constituency. An impeccable source revealed to this publication that Masisi and other BDP members had a meeting with Nkate where he was asked to relocate to Gaborone Bonnington North. 

 

It is said that he was promised not to be subjected to Bulela-Ditswe primary election if he agrees to relocate. The plan according to sources is for Nkate not to challenge area MP who is also Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Thato Kwerepe. 

 

Kwerepe is a staunch supporter and associate of the Vice President. Nkate is said to have made it clear that he has made groundwork in Ngami and that is where he would be contesting for the Parliamentary seat. Nkate’s bid for the constituency is expected to come with hurdles as Kwerepe enjoys the support of the party president Ian Khama and Masisi while Nkate’s relationship with the party president which has for a long time been on rocky grounds, is said to not have improved. 

 

Information gathered by this publication is that even if he relocates to Gaborone Bonnington North he would not enjoy the support of structures and would get a humiliation against Umbrella for Democratic Change President and current MP Duma Boko. The party structures in this constituency are said to have decried lack of support from the party leadership since losing the constituency in 2014 when Robert Masitara represented the party.

 

Contacted for comment Nkate said as far as he knows he is still in the race for Secretary General position. He stated that he does not know why the vice president called on fellow democrats to give him a vote for additional member.

 

“I am contesting for the position that I have forwarded my name for and nothing has changed. I would not speak for the VP. My focus is on my campaign as the congress is around the corner,” said Nkate. Nkate declined to discuss the Gantsi meeting saying it is an internal party matter. He would also not be drawn into discussing his parliamentary candidacy. 

 

“Look my focus is on Tonota. It would also be premature for me to be talking about Bulela-Ditswe because it would be outside the party protocol and procedure,” said Nkate. At the Ngami congress Masisi allegedly revealed that he has asked Nkate and Kwerepe not to contest against each other. He is said to have challenged the duo to publicly support the one who would be standing in the constituency. 

 

Nkate is the former area MP and after losing during the party primaries he was later given the diplomatic post. Masisi could not be reached at press time as his mobile phone was off. BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said the party top leadership does not push out anyone as all members are protected by the BDP Constitution to contest for any leadership position or participate in Bulela-Ditswe for parliament or council seat. 

 

He said as long as rules and regulations are followed there shouldn’t be any problem. “The issue of consensus came as a resolution during our special congress in Mogoditshane. We do not impose that on our members because it would be a violation of our constitution. Consensus is taken by interested candidates through dialogue and as the party leadership we do not and must not get involved. If they agree that is well and good for the party and if they do not then it is their right to contest and let democrats decide,” explained Ntuane.

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