FRANCISTOWN: Against the backdrop of accusations that he had trafficked voters from the periphery of Francistown, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary election winner Gilbert Boikhutso has vowed to win the by-election.
Speaking to Mmegi this week following his emphatic victory at the party’s Moselewapula ward primary election held at Mahudiri Primary School last Saturday, Boikhutso brushed aside accusations of voter trafficking downplaying it as normal losers’ excuse song.
Boikhutso feigned ignorance of voter trafficking describing it as an evil that has no room in his political plans.
“Those things are mentioned especially when someone loses a contest. Even the late former Moselewapula councillor Lechedzani Modenga was accused of voter-trafficking after winning the party ticket in the 2013 BDP primaries,” he says, indicating that he was one of the losers together with 61-year-old Mavis Amos.
Interestingly, about 260 people at the primaries elected Modenga with the losers voted by a measly number that resonates with Boikhutso’s numbers against his competitors.
Winning the primaries or any other election for that matter is determined by how much an individual has worked, Boikhutso says.
“Moselewapula as a ward has four cells and the population is growing so fast that in no time there will be many people here,” he says, adding that for the weekend primaries they expected about 1,411 registered BDP members to have voted.
To him, common sense dictates that fewer people turned up for the BDP primaries, “and instead of people worrying about the low voter turn-out, they instead worry about inflated numbers.” He raises concerns of his party colleagues who were worried that after 299 people voted him, with the losers Joseph Mabutho, Mavis Amos, Joyce Ndove and Kabelo Maseko attracting 60, 50, 38 and 12 votes in that order, it means he had trafficked voters from elsewhere.
“Look, they simply want to reduce Moselewapula ward into a very small and static area without growth potential,” he says.
Even with threats that the losing candidates may not vote for the BDP at the impending by-election, Boikhutso is adamant that the residents are definitely going to vote for him as he has served them in different capacities before, including as the chairperson of the Village Development Committee (VDC).
He said even the strength of the VDC in the ward speaks for itself first and
As a combi operator plying his trade in the Gerald Estates, he feels he has become a common feature in the area so much that his name is almost on everybody’s lips.
He repeatedly indicated that the BDP is going to win the by-election even with threats that some people were planning to de-campaign it.
Who is Gilbert?
He is a 46-year-old Goshwe village-born sixth child in his family. He cut his political teeth in1997 whilst in the employ of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) at the Francistown abattoir. He became politically conscious through the membership of the Botswana Meat Workers Industries Union where for six years he was the branch secretary. He would later become the union trustee.
When he was retrenched in 2016 at the BMC, he joined the VDC in Gerald, which brought him closer to the people.
Back in 2013, Boikhutso tried his luck in contesting for the party ticket ahead of the 2014 general elections, but lost to the late Modenga who would that year become the ward councillor.
If he could be elected a councillor next month, Boikhutso has a dream of bringing developments to the growing ward.
“People should be given plots and encouraged to develop them. The entire Gerald Estates development area has no shopping complex and that’s one of the things that I will advocate for in this area,” he says.
At the primaries, Boikhutso wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: “Phathi e nonofile.” In accordance with the traditions of the BDP, it means last year in Tonota during the party’s elective congress, he supported Minister Nonofo Molefhi who contested for the party chairpersonship.
“When two people contest for a coveted position like party chairpersonship, it’s only logical that both sides should support their choice of a candidate,” he declares philosophically and finally concedes that he supported Molefhi for the position that was later won by President Mokgweetsi Masisi before he (Masisi) handed it over to Vice President Slumber Tsogwane upon ascending to the presidency.