Suspended BDP councillors ponder defection


Some of the suspended Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillors, who are set to appear before the disciplinary committee for trial on December 8, 2021, are already looking for life outside the ruling party.

At least three of the suspended civic leaders have told Mmegi they have opened talks with opposition parties for possible defections.

The move is as they ready for any eventuality that include a trial verdict that could go against their political ambitions or could block them from contesting for the party’s primaries ahead of the next general election.

BDP and state president, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in October 2021 suspended the four councillors for 60 days for leaked audios that allegedly put the name of the party into disrepute.

However, Mmegi has discovered that the four councillors’ charges differ from one another. The quartet includes Collen Mochotlhi, Slumber Mokgosi, Seilatsatsi Kgokong and Molemisi Motsewabathata.

“It is true, we are in talks with opposition parties if things do not go well for us at our party. Even if we are going to honour the party hearing, we know that they have already decided on our matter,” said one of the concerned councillors ahead of the disciplinary hearing.

“If they are going to suspend us for three or two years, then we will have no choice but to look for another political home. We are still young and, therefore, we cannot allow anyone to ruin our careers.”

Another suspended councillor claimed they are blamed for having attacked some Cabinet ministers for failing to deliver on their mandates.

“We are shocked that the communication chairperson Kagelelo Kentse, the complainant, wrote to the party without seeking clarity from us. We are not just members of the BDP but we have been elected to represent people and stand for their rights,” the concerned councillor bemoaned.

The councillors are alleged to have committed offences against the rules and the general code of conduct of the ruling party.

The offences amongst others include behaving in a grossly disorderly and unruly manner that might put the party name into disrepute contrary to general code of conduct number 5; behaving in a manner calculated to bring the party name into disrepute contrary to the general code of conduct of party number 11 and contemptuous behaviour towards the party leadership and other members.

“As a member, you were obliged to abide by the constitution, rules and regulations of the party, and expected to promote its philosophy, policies and programmes as stated, particularly in article 14 subsection one and two thereof,” stated the party to the councillors.

The BDP argued in taking the decision, the president was exercising the powers conferred upon him by article 34.1.6 of the party constitution and “have determined that this is one of the exceptional circumstances in which Masisi should suspend the councillors with immediate effect for 60 days pending investigations”.

According to a letter dated October 11, 2021, signed by the ruling party president, Masisi, ‘for the period of 60 days the four suspended councillors cease to enjoy their rights and privileges as members of the party’. The four councillors are said to be supporters of the current party secretary-general, Mpho Balopi, who is embroiled in a factional battle with Masisi.

Pundits said this could mark the beginning of a long protracted factional war between the president and the secretary-general. The latter, however, told Mmegi in a recent interview that he harboured no plans to challenge Masisi for the party presidency.

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