Behind the violence in Serowe North primaries

Since 2003 up to 2013 the Botswana Democratic Party [BDP] primary elections in Seroewe North have one thing in common, the vamdalisation of the ballot box.

In 2003 the newly-demarcated constituency had four candidates- two retired army men, Brigadiers Keiphemele Kgokgothwane and Dikgakgamatso Ndelu Seretse and two civilians Kgotla Autlwetse and Prince Kgwaneng. The main race was between Autlwetse, at the time council chairman for Central District Council [CDC] and Seretse, the first cousin to the then Vice President and Bangwato paramount chief Ian Khama Seretse Khama. As the race got hotter it was clear that Autlwetse was in pole position in most of the wards but with a slim margin. During the elections day, violence erupted at Tshimoyapula and the ballot box burst open after being vandalised by some people.

Seretse protested the results of the election and a rerun was ordered at Tshimoyapula. Other candidates- Kgwaneng and Brigadier Kgokgothwane-backed down and declared their support for Seretse, who later won the primaries. In 2008, the two met again for the party’s primaries and it was still a nail biting contest. During voting day at around lunch time, violence erupted at Topisi polling station. Some people pulled down the tent while voting was still in progress. The polling station was closed down after the intervention of the police. Autlwetse protested the results and wanted a rerun for the Topisi ward. The Serowe Regional Committee led by Bafana Motseothata threw out the appeal saying that they could not order a rerun at Topisi, where the polling station was closed before 1 pm, saying that party members scored an own goal when they caused the chaos.

Autlwetse felt aggrieved as the case was similar to the 2003 one in Tshimoyapula. Last week Saturday during the party’s Bulela Ditswe elections a similar incident happened in Taukome in Patikwane ward. The Minister of Defence and Justice, Seretse who has lost with a huge margin has lodged a protest and wants a rerun for the ward, which the party’s Electoral Board has granted. Councillor Solomon Dikgang of Tidimalo ward in the same constituency said that the violence is caused by the same people. “These people are from Serowe and are taken to these areas by truck to vote there and cause violence,” said Dikgang. He blamed the candidates for misleading people telling them that it is their opponents who struck them off from the voters roll. The recently trounced Serowe North East legislator Ndelu Seretse said that people have their own emotions especially in a hotly contested area.

“It was deliberate on the part of those who incited  violence.” The winner of the BDP primaries, Autlwetse said that he believes that the violence was a deliberate thing and though diplomatic quoted the 1st book of Kings 10:24 in the Bible, “if someone is winning he cannot incite violence.” University of Botswana political analyst professor Zibani Maudeni said that looking at the pattern of the violence; it might be caused by supporters of a certain candidate in order to boost his chances. He said that the violence is calculated and deliberate.

Last modified on Friday, 15 November 2013 09:16

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