What started as differences of opinion among Botswana Democratic Party youth in the Francistown West constituency have allegedly escalated into open hostility ahead of this weekend National Youth Congress in Masunga.
So bad is the situation that, according to reports, a one day constituency congress last weekend at the regional office in Francistown to choose the new youth constituency committee as well as delegates to the Masunga congress, degenerated into a round of quarrels and even threats to kill. Falling short of a boxing contest, several of those who were disgruntled trooped out of the meeting to go and hold a parallel meeting elsewhere. Nor do they accept the decisions of the meeting they walked out of. The disgruntled have reportedly written a letter to the regional committee praying that the whole process of electing the constituency youth committee and delegates to Masunga be nullified.
According to a source who prefers anonymity for discussing party matters without authorisation, matters came to a head when the preferred candidates of one of the factions, allegedly led by among others, Lechedzani Mudenga, Gaethuse Ramolotsana and Raoboy Mpuang, lost the elections. According to the same source, the complaints surrounded claims by some who alleged that, the area Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane had become such a busybody in the constituency that he always sought to have things done his way. “He is always interfering. Even on Saturday he influenced the elections,” alleged the source. Besides, there are allegations that, contrary to BDP regulations, people were allowed to vote without producing their membership cards. One of those who were allegedly involved in the quarrels is councillor for Tatitown ward, Ramolotsana.
“I never quarrelled with anybody but had an argument with Baboni Mosalagae who had tried to protect those accused of interference,” he said. When asked whether he agreed with those who accused the MP of interference, he answered in the affirmative. “Mr Moswaane should trust us because we have got no intention of taking his constituency. It appears he has this feeling of insecurity which I think makes him want to install his puppets in the party structures in the constituency,” said Ramolotsana who, by virtue of being a councillor, attended the youth congress last Saturday as an ex-officio member. Reached for comment, Baboni Mosalagae denied that she ever had an angry exchange with Ramolotsana. “He and I are friends and we always joke together. He is a reserved man with whom it is difficult to quarrel,” she said.
Asked about the credibility of the elections in the light of allegations of irregularities, Mosalagae said, “There were no irregularities. People just do not like losing. It is unfortunate that some people buy votes and get really angry when they lose,” added the councillor for Monarch south who is also an ex-officio member of party structures in the constituency. For his part, Moswaane denied that he desires to control everything in the constituency. “I never want to comment on party matters but on my mandate as an MP. My mandate is to ensure that the people of Francistown west are properly represented with respect to development,” said the MP. By him, there are no problems in Francistown west but people are trying to cause problems there. “I have even refused to campaign for individuals because I want unity in the constituency. I always tell people never to vote along factional lines.
I have got no intention of controlling structures. My belief is that people must choose their own candidates freely,” said Moswaane. Like Mosalagae, he blames money for peoples’ inability to accept unfavourable results in an election. When contacted, the secretary of the Francistown region, Moses Serumola confirmed receipt of the said letter. He explained that the petitioners were not happy with certain processes and the elections of both the constituency committee and delegates to Masunga but would not explain further.