FRANCISTOWN: The Alliance for Progressives (AP) has fielded a candidate who is charged with one count of rape to stand for a council seat.
The candidate, Taujoruavi Maekopo, will represent the AP during the upcoming general elections that are slated for October 23, 2019 at the Gumare-Tubu ward in the Ngami constituency.
The 24-year-old Maekopo, who was a student at Maun Senior School in 2016, allegedly raped one of his cousins, aged 12 then, who were left in his custody.
He has already appeared in court in relation to the charge, which he is vigorously denying.
Maekopo was one of the many parliamentary and council candidates across the country who were given the greenlight by the electoral body, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to contest during the upcoming elections after he successfully managed to handover the necessary nomination documents to the IEC last week.
The AP’s parliamentary hopeful for the Ngami constituency under which the Gumare-Tubu ward falls, Ndobano Lokae, confirmed Maekopo’s candidature in a telephone interview with Mmegi on Thursday.
He said: “Yes, Maekopo would represent the AP at the Gumare-Tubu ward”.
Asked if Maekopo could have waited first to clear his name and then contest for political office in future, Lokae said: “Following this alleged incident, I gathered evidence from the party and then went to Maekopo’s family where I discovered that some of Maekopo’s family members want him to be prosecuted while others don’t want him to be prosecuted for the alleged offence”.
Lokae further stated that he went to enquire about the allegation from Maekopo’s uncle who intimated that they want to withdraw the charge.
Lokae added that should Maekopo’s family decide to withdraw the allegation that Maekopo is facing in future while he has already withdrew his candidature, it would have greatly prejudiced his political ambitions.
Lokae further said that in the event that the courts clear Maekopo in future for any
“As it stands, the family said it was still dealing with the issue at family level before mapping the way forward. That is where I left the issue at,” Lokae said.
Asked about the Maekopo issue towards the end of July, Margaret Nasha, the advisor to the AP president, Ndaba Gaolathe, said that the AP abhors violence against children and women in all its manifestations.
Said the former Speaker of the National Assembly: “As the AP, violence against women and children is something that we do not condone. We are aware of the case. We did discuss the allegations at an executive level recently. There are those who believe that he (Maekopo) should step down and clear his name.
Others are of the view that he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is a tricky situation. We have sent people to engage him in relation to the allegations. The feedback that they will give us will certainly determine what action the AP will take”.
Nasha added that there are those who are of the view that recalling the candidate two months before the elections may work against the party.
In neighbouring South Africa, most political parties usually bar people accused of sexual offences from seeking political office.
In the same breath, political parties in South Africa normally recall their representatives from the positions they are holding in order to afford the affected representatives time to clear their names before the courts of laws first.
In addition, civic organisations in SA are also very active and always put pressure on political parties to bar or recall politicians who are alleged to have committed sexual offences from seeking or continuing in political office.