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Drama ahead of BDP primaries

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Just a few months before the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primaries kick off, all things are not rosy at the ruling party as fellow democrats have started throwing accusations and allegations of impropriety and underhandedness at each other. Some party members feel that there is favouritism from the leadership which is accused of strengthening their preferred candidates over others.

In what could be considered as intimidation and violation of democracy, the newly elected chairperson of the BDP, Guma Moyo is alleged to have said that Member of Parliament for Molepolole North constituency, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri should not be challenged in the party’s primaries elections to be held in three months. 

According to a party insider, Moyo said this at a meeting held in Molepolole on August 10th but he did not give reasons as to why the Assistant Minister of Health should not be challenged.

Currently, it is clear that Kabo Sebele is aspiring to run for MP for the  constituency and he has confirmed that he submitted his names to the party. Another aspiring candidate, Gaotlhobogwe Kwelagobe has since withdrawn from the race following the August 10th meeting.

The source believes that the party leadership wants Matlhabaphiri back and what Moyo said could have been a directive from the top brass.

Moyo has since refuted the allegations. “It is not true, I never said anything close to that and there is no basis of me saying that. There is no one who is not opposed in the primaries,” he said. He further said that the constituents are the ones who determine who stands,  “but that is water under the bridge because the names have been submitted and the vetting process has started,” he said.

Quizzed on the agenda of the Molepolole meeting, Moyo said; “It was an indoor meeting so I wouldn’t want to divulge what was discussed.  We were discussing BDP issues.”

 

Meanwhile, Sebele and Kwelagobe are said to have lodged a formal complaint with the party’s central committee just after the August 10th meeting, pointing out that the meeting was more of endorsement of  Matlhabaphiri, and up to now the central committee had not yet responded to their letter.

Despite the intimidation, Sebele said he will contest the party primaries. “I have submitted my names and  that means at the moment there are two candidates for Molepolole North.  It’s me and Matlhabaphiri for the coming party primaries since Kwelagobe has pulled back. I will be contesting if the party allows me,” he said.

 

The source alleges that there are two upcoming meetings that will be addressed by Minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu. “These meetings will not be addressed at the main kgotla but in the wards to boost Matlhabaphiri support. This is the same strategy that the BDP used at the Letlhakeng West bye-elections whereby the minister will come to back our party. They are using the same strategy to back Matlhabaphiri. Procedurally, if at all these meetings were meant for the people of Molepolole, they are supposed to be addressed in the main kgotla,” he said.

The party secretary general, Mpho Balopi confirmed that the party received the letter but they were busy preparing for the primary elections. “The letter will be taken to the relevant people. I am still awaiting full feedback of what might have transpired at the meeting of the 10th but what I have gathered so far is that the meeting never endorsed the area MP. The emphasis was that democrats were encouraged to be involved in the activities of the party,” he said.

 

In the battle for Tswapong South constituency, a prominent member of the BDP who spoke on condition of anonymity says that he is fed up with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu’s campaigns in the constituency. He said that Malesu was using her Ministry resources and staff to campaign prior to the party primary elections. The source also said Malesu is violating the party constitution by campaigning before the primaries.

According to him, Malesu has been donating cement, chairs and blankets in the pretext of corporate social responsibility. What upsets the source mostly was that on Saturday, Minister Malesu brought her Ministry and the staff to Sefhare, allegedly under the pretext that she was selling her ministry’s initiatives to Batswana in an event that was themed Metlhala ya Khumo.

 

“We acknowledge that it is part of her Ministry’s mandate but we all know that she has interest in the area; what is shocking is that in the same event we learnt (from some of the staff) that they were being used to recruit members of the public to her side. Members of the public were also advised to make BDP membership cards. It has always been like this in all the events that she holds in the constituency. She is getting out of hand now. If she is now going to use fuel or any other government resources and even the staff to campaign, that is not right. She is mobilising people under the pretext that she is bringing her ministry’s initiatives to them. Malesu does not respect the constitution of the party,” he said.

 

The Gazette understands that there was a letter of complaint that was addressed to the constituency branch complaining about Malesu’s campaigns. “We decided as aspiring candidates that we become one team and write yet another letter to the branch which was supposed to be read before the vetting process on this past Saturday. For some reason known to the constituency branch, the letter was never read. Now we are planning to take it to the next level.  Our next stop is the Regional Office; if they fail us we will be heading to the party’s Central Committee,” said one of the aspiring candidates.

This publication’s efforts to get a comment from Malesu on the allegations proved futile as her phone rang unanswered. In an earlier interview she had said that she never came across the said letter. “I do not even know its contents, to me it is petty issues,” she said.

The area MP, Oreeditse Molebatsi said he would not comment on the matter as he has been away from the constituency for about ten days.

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