FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the volatile Francistown West constituency is facing rebellion from its own members.
BDP sources have informed Mmegi that if the BDP does not handle the revolt properly, notably the registration of voters who are going to vote in the deferred primary elections, it may find itself before the courts of law.
In July, some aspiring BDP parliamentary and council candidates vowed to punish the BDP if it did not properly address their voter registration concerns.
The disgruntled BDP figures wrote a letter of complaint to the party’s Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) entitled, ‘Request for audit of voters’ rolls.
In the letter, the BDP operatives complained about a cocktail of problems chief amongst them, voter trafficking and cross border registration of voters.
Recently, some of the BDP members vying for parliament and councillorship cried foul that their problems have not been resolved despite formally notifying the party about them.
One of the sources privy to the goings-on in the hotly contested constituency stated that the voters’ roll that was issued by the BDP recently came with more problems that they did not anticipate.
The source said: “The voters’ roll that was issued by the party for purposes of primary elections has many flaws. You will find that voters staying in Botsalano ward have been registered to vote in Monarch East ward while those who stay and are registered in Monarch East have been registered to vote in Botsalano and vice versa.
“The anomaly is prevalent in all the six Francistown West wards. This obviously shows that some people with malicious intentions fiddled with the voters’ roll to favour a team of one parliamentary candidate over others”.
Another source said that the alleged failure by the BDP to solve pertinent issues in the constituency has left a bad taste in mouths of some BDP figures who are even contemplating to take the party to court to force it to solve their concerns.
“The BDP is starring at an electoral defeat in the constituency should it not address our concerns. We will rather vote for the opposition during the general elections next year instead of people who have trafficked hundreds of people from other constituencies in a bid to impose themselves on us,” vowed the vexed BDP apparatchik who spoke to Mmegi on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the party.
The sources added that the BDP was nearly hauled before the court on an urgent basis this week by its disgruntled members, but somehow survived that embarrassment following the infamous hacking of the party’s primary elections roll of 38 constituencies that were supposed to take place on August 11.
To make the matter a bitter pill to swallow, the sources added that the displeased BDP members were even contemplating hiring Morgan Moseki - a prominent Francistown based attorney who is also a Botswana Congress Party parliamentary candidate in Francistown East-to represent them.
“The BDP survived that possibility by the skin of its teeth after unforeseen circumstances forced it to postpone primary elections that were billed for Saturday this week,” the source explained.
The indefinite postponement of the primary elections happened after the BDP said it has discovered that it voters’ roll for its last batch of primary elections had been hacked.
The BDP’s secretary general, Mpho Balopi has promised the party faithful and the nation that it will heed to their concerns and conduct transparent and credible primary elections despite the problems it has encountered.
However, a leaked audio conversation passed to Mmegi shows that the tempers have reached fever pitch in Francistown West.
In the audio conversation that took place at Aerodrome Primary School on Tuesday evening, a voice, purportedly belonging to one of the aspiring parliamentary candidates, Gregory Kealotswe, is heard saying that legal options are still open should the BDP not move swiftly to address their primary elections concerns.
The purported Kealotswe voice in essence was pleading with other aspiring parliamentary and council candidates not to give up in order for the BDP head honchos to solve all their primary elections related issues in Francistown West including taking the legal route if the push comes to the
The voice is heard blaming unnamed chairpersons and secretaries for the voters’ roll conundrum.
The speaker says that the chairpersons and secretaries should be taken to task for acting on behalf of some competitors in the constituency to rig the elections to their side.
This, the voice says, should be done in order to make sure that the chairpersons and secretaries would be forced to reveal the names of people who sent them to act with malicious intentions.
“I am telling you that this should happen in order for anyone who is holding any position of authority in our constituency to do their job accordingly, not like now when people are deliberately doing illegally things fully aware that no action would be taken against them,” said the purported Kealotswe voice.
The voice also lamented the use of a lot of money during the campaigns, but some people holding positions of authority in the constituency just downplayed that to deliberately support their preferred candidates.
It would not be off the mark to say that the voice in the short audio clip is determined to take stern legal action against anyone in the constituency who may have taken part in the alleged tampering of the voters roll.
It says, “basimane ba setse ba bone dipampiri. Ba bone di loophole. Batho ba tsaya gole mothofo… E tlare gotwe ditlhopho batho ba bo ba gana go tsena ka gore ba itse gore batla tseelwa dikgato ga ba dire sentle”.
In synopsis, sources that attended the meeting said that the gist of the audio message means that the matter has been referred to a law firm, which has already discovered anomalies in the manner in which the process of registering voters in Francistown West was conducted.
When contacted for comment, Kealotswe confirmed that he is indeed one of the people who attended the Aerodrome Primary School meeting.
He said they discussed a number of pressing issues during the meeting especially issues of voter trafficking.
“The voters’ registration books have not been handled properly. According to procedure cell secretaries should sign them since they are the ones who know people who reside in a particular area within a particular ward but that was not the case. We suspect that the cell secretaries acted in cohorts with one of our competitors to rig the primary elections in his favour,” said a disappointed Kealotswe.
Kealotswe was steadfast that he and some contesting candidates in Francistown West will take the BDP to court should it not resolve their voters’ registration grievances.
He said: “If our concerns are not listened to, we will surely take the legal route in order for our concerns to be addressed. We have a right to do so if we feel that the party’s primary elections registration processes were not followed in both the spirit and letter of the BDP constitution.”
He added: “Many people who registered to vote in the primary elections do not reside in Francistown West. This should be corrected in the best interest of the party”.
If disgruntled members sue the BDP, it would not be the first time that the ruling party was hauled before the courts of laws for breaching its primary elections laws.
In the 2013 by-elections following the death of MP Tshelang Masisi, the BDP was barred from fielding a candidate in the turbulent constituency.
One of the then aspiring parliamentary candidates, Whyte Marobela, took the party to court and prevailed after complaining that the party did not afford him a hearing after he complained about some irregularities in the manner in which the party’s primary elections process was conducted.
This week, a local newspaper also reported that the MP for Serowe North Tshekedi Khama has served the BDP and one aspiring parliamentary candidate in Serowe North, Moemedi Dijeng, with summons.
Khama reportedly wanted Dijeng to be barred from contesting in the primary elections for allegedly breaking the rules of the primary elections.
The BDP however, overruled Khama, which then forced him to approach the courts in a bid to overturn the BDP’s central committee decision.