In rejecting the application by Member of Parliament (MP) for Serowe West, Tshekedi Khama to contest the Botswana Democratic Party primaries, the local committee accused him of having neglected his voters, never having visited his constituency since elections, or bothering to thank the voters.
The MP, who is also Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has been accused by his own party of paying no attention to his constituents. The accusations towards Khama are surfacing as he is challenging the candidacy of Moemedi Dijeng before the court.
He reportedly wants Dijeng barred for allegedly breaking the rules of the primary elections. However, his party is having none of his demands as evidenced by the responses. In an answering affidavit deposed by the BDP secretary general, Mpho Balopi, the party explains that both Dijeng and Khama were approved to stand elections. He explained that the comments made by the branch committee indicated that Khama had not bothered addressing his electorates after being elected, nor appraise them on issues discussed in Parliament. “The branch committee’s comments about Dijeng application were contrast to the ones with respect to Khama’s application. He (Khama) had not visited the constituency, not even once to thank the electorates since he was elected,” Balopi said. In the affidavit, Balopi says that the central committee, using its discretion, approved both candidates so that the members of the party in the Serowe West constituency would elect a candidate of their choice.
He explained that the central committee was very fair and balanced in its decisionmaking in respect to both parties.
Khama, who took his party to court for failing him on his demands, has also been accused of not having bothered to thank the voters after the 2014 general elections, and having failed approval by the branch committee. “Despite that Khama was not recommended by the very branch committee to which he belongs, the central committee nevertheless and regardless, approved him. I am therefore quite at a loss of words, when the applicant, who benefited from the generous exercise of the committee’s discretion suddenly has very little confidence in its decision-making,” he said. Balopi said that the attack seemed unwarranted, especially that sanity has never escaped the party when it came to decision-making. On the disciplinary proceedings that found Dijeng guilty, Balopi said the central committee carefully averted its mind and attention so as to come to a well thought out and balanced conclusion.
“The conclusion was that the said transgression was not of sufficient gravity as to warrant denial of a fellow democrat an opportunity to participate in a democratic process of determining
Balopi also pointed out that such a factor did not disqualify Dijeng from contesting in terms of the electoral laws of the country.
On one hand, Khama wants Dijeng disqualified from standing as a candidate as he was found guilty after the central region committee wrote a letter complaining about irregularities in a voter registration drive held sometime in Mmashoro ward where T-shirts bearing the party symbol, name and the initials ‘M.D’ were distributed. In a founding affidavit, Khama said he was forced to seek a judicial redress after the party’s inaction as it continued to disregard provisions of its regulations, after he laid complaint about the conduct of Dijeng who was nonetheless approved.
Khama explained that he was compelled to raise the challenge to protect the integrity of not only the party but indeed the very essence of rule of law as regulations established by the party’s founding document are deliberate and meant to be adhered to. “The person was found guilty and the party’s regulations should be adhered to. Why should I be prejudiced into spending time, energy and resources to beat a candidate that should not even be in the party’s primary election process as a person seeking election?” he said.
He said as it stands, the electorates of the Serowe West constituency should take comfort in the fact that the exercise that they are asked to take time off daily, need to know that the process is not flawed and that the right procedure has been followed.
On hearing of the case before the primaries as an urgent matter, Khama said it should be done as a protection against what can only be described as a blatant abuse of power, which if it was to be reversed later, it will be prejudicial to them as candidates.
“Having to then have another primary election once this one is eventually annulled as involving a candidate that, in terms of the clear provisions of the party’s regulations should be disqualified, sets me and indeed by necessary other members of the party back unnecessarily.”
He further noted that if not heard, the party would have been allowed to get away with deliberately ignoring a mandatory provision of its regulations by unlawfully approving Dijeng as a candidate for primary election when he should have been disqualified.