A source within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee revealed to The Gazette that it was evident that in all the 57 constituencies, popular candidates, some of whom are Ministers and Members of Parliament, violated the rules and regulations of the party primaries. The source said that the central committee compromised by not vetting out anyone, a move that the source says sets a bad precedent.
The rules and regulations of the BDP primaries do not allow any aspiring individual to campaign before the primaries. “It was evident that in all the 57 constituencies candidates campaigned before the primaries. Letters were received from the concerned democrats. It was not upon me to say we shouldn’t vet in those who violated the rules but was a decision of the central committee. There was no way I could oppose that, but all I can ask is; why are we making rules that we can’t follow. It makes it hard for the party to control its people if it goes that way,” he said.
Aspiring parliamentary candidate, Thobo Ngakaemang said the issue is demoralising. “When we try to abide by the constitution and the rules and regulations of bulela ditswe, some of those who have power deliberately violate them. That on its own negatively affects the process, especially for the upcoming candidates. It really disadvantages some of us who are trying to abide by the rules and regulations. They make the political ground imbalanced,” he said.
He said this blatant disregard of the constitution was not expected, especially when the new central committee led by Guma Moyo promised to deal with such matters and used this as their ticket to win their campaign into the central committee. “They told us that they will not beat around the bush on any issue. We are surprised that is not happening now. It is clear that culprits are not brought to book,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with The Gazette, the BDP secretary general, Mpho Balopi said to embark on campaigns before the primaries is not allowed. He however, said that it was not true that the central committee compromised the process of bulela ditswe, saying that those who complained did not provide proof of the said campaigns.
“If anyone can bring proof of anything that has violated any section within bulela ditswe rules and regulations, action will be taken against such culprits. What we find more often is that when people come and complain that certain individuals are campaigning, they fail to prove that. If any of them could bring the proof then we will be in a position as the BDP to say now certain individuals have violated the party rules,” he said.
Balopi said that some of the complainants bring evidence that does not hold water, further noting that some do not know how to draw a line between campaigning and recruiting members into the party. “Whether during the elections or after the elections, the party must be alive. Any BDP activist has the responsibility to recruit members. Some people fail to draw a line between recruiting and campaigning,” he explained.
Balopi could not reveal the names of those who are being accused by other party members of campaigning before they are allowed to do so. He said he can only do that if he had both sides of the complainants and the respondents. “At the moment there are only complainants without proof,” he said.