PALAPYE: The recent Botswana Congress Party (BCP) primary elections have awoken festering rancour amongst party members in the Palapye constituency and left some so disgruntled they even threaten to jump ship.
The internal bickering amongst members has surfaced after the past weekend’s primaries.
A number of losers are not happy with the executive of the party, the system of elections and the events that built up to the primaries.
Speculation is rife in the constituency that the disgruntled members, most of who are the lobby group of Ethel Gaampone, who lost to Onneetse Ramogapi for a parliamentary position, are mobilising to stand against their comrades in the general elections as independent candidates. Ramogapi beat Gaampone by 843 votes to her 411.
Gaampone confirmed she did not accept the results, but refused to be drawn into discussing the matter further. “At the moment I can only point out that I don’t accept the results and I have protested, but I would not comment any further,” she briefly said.
Similarly, Area Gabathusi who lost the Boikago/Madiba constituency to Martha Lebang by a margin of five votes after her 155 votes led to a victory against his 150. He did not accept the results and has also tendered a protest to the party’s executive.
He decried that the party failed to protect him after consecutive financial crippling campaigns in the 2014 general elections and last year’s by-election when he won the Boikago/Madiba ward for the party.
He also complained about the party allowing a secretary of the Letswapo region to contest elections when she was conflicted, by virtue of her position.
He accused some members of his party that were campaigning against his lobby group of character assassination. He said they had posted some damning propaganda against him in the social media weeks before the primaries.
Gabathusi was cagey when quizzed if he is amongst a group that has threatened to contest independently. But he hinted: “Everyone is allowed to contest the general elections irrespective of where they are coming from”.
Dineo Tumotumo who lost Mmaphula West to Onkabetse Magibisela by 96 votes against his 45 also said he does not accept the results, pointing out that he does not see the need to protest.
He feels the executive committee failed to act on the issues he raised before the primaries and protesting will make no difference. Instead, he outrightly indicated that he would be contesting as an independent candidate in the general elections.
Tumotumo said that there is animosity between some members of the two lobby groups that contested in Palapye. He said the issues stem from the divisions in the BCP top office.
He said the BCP executive is divided and he was deliberately sabotaged for sticking with the president of the party, Dumelang Saleshando and lobbying Kenny Kapinga for the vice presidency.
He said his position on the two leaders has rubbed some members of
Before the primary elections, he said, “I reported to the executive that there are inconsistencies with the voters’ roll. He said the voters of his ward did not appear on the voters’ roll, but his complaint was poured cold water”.
“The people that voted in my ward were trafficked from as far as Topisi and we don’t know them, people from this ward did not vote,” he said, pointing out that this has caused him to believe people dealing with the voters’ rolls were bribed to remove his voters from the roll.”
He said his opponent, Magibisela joined the party less than three months ago and as thus he was not eligible to contest the elections. He said as one of the founding members of the party who have always been active, he knows members of the party in Palapye.
“This gentleman recently defected from the BDP and we know him. His three months with us elapses at the end of this month and he was not eligible. However, his membership shows he is eligible and that tells me that his membership was forged,” he said.
Tumotumo said he has notified the party president about his grievances and he will not protest. He said he will engage his constituents to inform them that he will be contesting as an independent candidate.
“I will remain a registered member of the BCP, but I am going into the elections as an independent candidate. I know some of my comrades are equally aggrieved and it shouldn’t surprise people to see independent candidates from the BCP in all the 10 wards,” he said.
Khurumela ward councillor George Makhura, who stood unopposed in his ward, was worried about his comrades. He said he is aware of a group that is planning to defect following the primaries.
“We hear some of our members are already campaigning to bring mekoko (independent candidates) in all the wards and it is disappointing,” he said.
“People have spoken and we need to come together and prepare for 2019. This is politics and no one wants to lose, besides life does not end at the polls there is always another day,” Makhura said.
Vice chairperson of Letswapo region, Maina Kgopo confirmed that some members have reported their grievances to the director of elections, but said he is not in a position to discuss the details.
“Of course we are aware of what transpired, we understand some members have written to the director of elections, and we can only be available to comment when the director of elections wants evidence from us,” he said.