The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been compelled to postpone its primary elections, scheduled for Saturday August 11th, due to a hack of the BDP voters roll. The postponement was announced amid speculation that former President Ian Khama’s campaign for his preferred candidates might influence voter decisions. The highly charged primary elections, commonly known as Bulela Ditswe, were to be conducted in all the 38 constituencies currently held by the ruling party.
The abrupt cancellation of the primary elections was confirmed by the party Secretary General Mpho Balopi in a statement issued yesterday (Monday) evening. ‘‘Acting pursuant to article 31 of the constitution, after receiving a report on the preparation of the Bulela Ditswe primary election, the Central Committee decided to postpone the primary elections that were scheduled for this weekend, Saturday 11 August’’, Balopi stated.
He said the cancellation was necessitated by the discovery of a compromise to the integrity of the voters roll because of a hack, specific to the 38 BDP held constituencies. ‘‘If left unchecked, the hacking will result in the Central Committee not delivering a credible election as required by the constitution’’, Balopi warned.
The BDP recently expelled two employees from Tsholetsa House, the party’s secretariat head office, after being implicated in falsifying the voters roll to the advantage of their preferred candidates. This publication has it on good authority that Fidelis Molao is one of the candidates who had lodged a complaint over irregularities in the voters roll at his constituency. It has since been discovered that several other constituencies were also affected, leaving the central committee with no option but to postpone the primary elections indefinitely.
Even though officially the party claims the elections were postponed solely on the grounds of the irregularities discovered in the voters roll, there is suspicion among BDP contenders that the postponement is meant to buy time for incumbent members of parliament who are skating on thin ice and may lose the elections. ‘‘This is just a ploy to give them time to re-strategize and up their campaign because we are giving them a run for their money’’, one of the Bulela Ditswe aspirants told this publication. He said that since it has become clear that former President Ian Khama’s preferred candidates are set to win the primary elections, a delaying tactic had to be devised.
This publication was not able to establish who in the central committee spearheaded the postponement. Among the central committee members who are fighting to retain their positions at the primaries are Moyo Guma, Slumber Tsogwane, Ngaka Ngaka, Machana Shamukuni ,Tshekedi Khama and Shaw Kgathi.
At the time of going to press The Botswana Gazette had not been able to ascertain whether the DIS would be called in to investigate the hack as a matter of national security.