The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has itself to blame for the weekend loss at the Moselewapula ward by-election, the ward, which they had won comfortably during the 2014 general elections. Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE sheds more light on the ruling party’s bitter loss
FRANCISTOWN: The late Lechedzani Modenga of the BDP had garnered 663 votes, followed by Reuben Ketlhoilwe of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who was voted by 379 people. Odireleng Ditshotlo representing the then Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and independent candidate Johnson Moremi got 142 and 120 votes respectively. That was in the 2014 general elections when the BDP retained its ward.
Fast forward and leap into 2018, tables were turned last weekend as Ketlhoilwe now representing the UDC, vanquished the ruling BDP by garnering 317 votes. The BDP’s Gilbert Boikhutso with 285 votes followed him. New comers Alliance for Progressives (AP) represented by Odireleng Ditshotlo trailed with 139 votes.
Without taking anything from Ketlhoilwe and the UDC team’s hard work, their job was simplified by the confusion in the BDP camp.
For starters, matters came to a head in the BDP camp about a month ago when four losers in an overcrowded primary election decried that the party ticket winner, Boikhutso had trafficked voters from outside Francistown.
Losers Kabelo Maseko, Joseph Mabutho, Joyce Ndove and Mavis Amos rejected the results of the primary elections held at Mahudiri Primary School citing irregularities. They had vowed not to work cooperatively with the winner as long as the party leadership ignored their complaints. They alleged that Boikhutso had trafficked people from Tonota, Shashemooke, Mathangwane and other areas to vote for him so as to win the elections in what has become known in the vernacular as ntlodisa molatswana (help me cross the stream).
True to their vows, the weekend results reflect anger that was displayed by the losing BDP quartet. The opposition also knew that all was not well in the BDP house and built its strength on the opportunistic development that offered itself. Just a month ago at the party’s controversial primaries, a visibly frustrated loser, 61-year-old party veteran Mavis Amos, warned the party to handle the protests carefully lest it may cost the party the ward. She spoke with a lot of confidence that the party had the requisite strength to retain the ward, but warned that if the leadership could ignore wishes of those who protested the results, it ran the risk of losing its stronghold.
”Voter tracking is going to
She even encouraged the BDP leadership to intervene immediately as otherwise it might result in some concerned party members voting with the opposition, or simply selling out the party.
Amos, Maseko, Ndove and Mabutho were in unison that the party had to hear them before declaring Boikhutso the winner.
Unfortunately, the BDP leadership never satisfied their wish as Boikhutso was declared the winner openly, leaving the losers with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Amos attributed voter trafficking to the area MP, Ignatius Moswaane who condoned it because he favoured the winner of the party ticket, Gilbert Boikhutso.
“Now voter trafficking is so embedded that Moswaane encourages it as a norm to assist his favourite candidate to win the elections. I want to warn the BDP head honchos that if they are not going to hear our concerns, BDP is going to lose Moselewapula by-election,” Amos had said. In an earlier interview, Moswaane had rubbished accusations of voter trafficking.
“It depends on what Amos what voter trafficking is”. He added: “I wouldn’t take it kindly for people to wrongly accuse with such unfounded and baseless practices. It’s unfair for people to pass their problems to me. Registration for membership at the party is continuous and numbers for membership take upward trajectory”.BDP’s Francistown region chairperson, Baemedi Medupe acknowledged that there were primary election protesters at Moselewapula and as the region they were listened to.
“After listening to them, we found out that the quartet did not have a case at all. We looked at their complaints and explained the reasons for the verdict,” Medupe said this week.
As a way forward, Medupe and the Francistown region are waiting for a comprehensive report detailing what went wrong at Moselewapula, especially that they had won the ward in 2014 general elections with a comfortable margin.
“We will also look at the allegations that some party members worked against the party and other contributory factors,” Medupe explained.