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Tonota primaries losers protest

CHAKALISA DUBE
Tapela Setshege PIC. KEOAGILE BONANG
TONOTA: Businessman and educationist Tapela Setshege has joined a swelling rank of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) diehards who are protesting the weekend party primaries.

Thapelo Olopeng who is the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) won the disputed weekend primaries for the Tonota constituency after being voted by 3,392. His closest challenger, Setshege managed 1,320 votes while Botho Ntirang managed 565 votes. Peter William came last with 320 votes.

William is the initial losing candidate to state that he is appealing the election results.  More specifically, William wants a recount of the votes. He was, however, not willing to give further details because ‘of fear of jeopardising his protest’. 

This week, Setshege confirmed that he also intends to launch a formal protest with the party, but refused to shed more details about his protest citing the same reasons as William.

However, Mmegi has established that Setshege and some candidates who lost the parliamentary primaries believe that there were many irregularities at the weekend election.

Among the irregularities is that some branch leaders who are reportedly affiliated to Olopeng directly coordinated the elections in some areas over the weekend, which is against party procedure.

The branch committee members are also accused of openly campaigning for Olopeng.

Those opposing Olopeng said that in one of the wards his supporters acted in a manner meant to influence voters to cast their votes in his favour.

“They were busy

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persuading voters who have lined up to cast their votes in favour of Olopeng.  They also gave voters money and oranges, which was a clear act of influencing voters to vote for Olopeng, which is totally against party procedure,” said one of the candidates. 

The candidates have also expressed worry that the fact that the elections started very late in most wards meant that many people ended up not voting, which to some extent disadvantaged them.

Olopeng spoke shortly after being certified the winner of the primary elections and he called for party unity. He described the primaries as peaceful and urged his supporters not to mock his opponents as well as their associates.

Even the presiding officer Abel Molelo said that apart from starting late owing to logistical challenges the elections were very peaceful.

BDP primary elections in Tonota have often been accompanied by large-scale complaints and protests. At the weekend primaries it had appeared that there will be no notable complaints or protests as the elections were held in a near peaceful atmosphere.

Even when the final results were announced at Shashe River Secondary School no one would have thought that the aftermath of the primaries would be characterised by a wave of unrest and protests.



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