- Alleges intimidation, violence and delays
- Kgathi ironically alleges hacking and manipulation of system
- Kgathi calls for re-run in his constituency
- Electoral Board says Regional Committee will decide
‘‘I, Shaw Kgathi, the Bobonong Constituency Primary elections candidate do hereby lodge an appeal strictly to the BDP Central Committee in terms of section 12 (a) of the Regulations for Conduct of Primary Elections, the reason being that most of the members of the Regional Committee come from Bobonong Constituency hence they are directly conflicted’’, reads Bobonong MP Shaw Kgathi’s introduction in his 23-page supplementary grounds of appeal against his loss to Francisco Kgoboko in the recently held primary elections.
The Botswana Gazette is in possession of Kgathi’s appeal, leaked from Tsholetsa House in which he complains of among other issues, intimidation, violence, contravention of BDP primary election regulations, irreconcilable and unverifiable statistics. In his appeal, Kgathi claims that his opponent, Francisco Kgoboko’s team had arranged a group of people to intimidate and harass people at the polling stations.
‘‘The duo were going round (sic) the polling stations producing letters claiming that they were appointed by Mr Kgoboko to inspect the Polling Stations and had to enter all the classrooms where polling was taking place,’’Kgathi claimed in his appeal.
Kgathi indicated that the Bobonong Branch Chairperson, a certain Mr Ditirwa, was insulted and assaulted when he tried to intervene during the violence that had erupted at Tsetsebye Community Junior Secondary School, where only 346 of the 772 eligible registered voters ended up exercising their right to vote.
‘‘Following the violence that ensued, the Presiding Officers announced that the environment was not conducive to voting and therefore closed the polling station and advised people to return home. A video recording of all acts of violence at Tsetsebjwe during voting was sent through to the mobile phones of Mr Lesedi Dintwe, Ms Moloise and Mr Siele for ease of reference. However, after one hour or more, the same officer in consultation with only one candidate agreed to re-open the polling station to resume voting. This took place when well over Two Hundred (200) potential voters had already gone back home,” asserts Kgathi.
He noted that the same acts of violence and intimidation were observed at Dandane/Mabeleng Ward, particularly at Madikwe primary school polling station ‘‘where Mr Kgoboko’s team was harassing and publicly campaigning to the people who queued for voting’’. Kgathi claims that at this polling station, only 365 voters ended up casting their votes out of the 816 eligible registered voters due to democrats having to return home due to intimidation.
Kgathi blames the Returning Officer, Douglas Letsholathebe for the intimidation and claims that on polling day, 25th August, he received a telephone call at around 10pm from Branch Secretary Florah Basiame who indicated that the Returning Officer had lodged a complaint with her, ‘‘that I should order and withdraw some voters who came in putting on red t-shirts and jackets and in some instances two piece overalls and threatened that if we do not withdraw them he will write a report to the Central Committee to recommend disqualification.”
Kgathi reveals in his plea to the BDP Central Committee that, ‘‘in my response I asked what was the problem with people wearing red party regalia inscribed ‘100% BDP’ and sought to establish how at a BDP event, the Returning Officer associated such people with me to the extent that it should be me who orders them to remove such regalia’’.
Although Letsholathebe agreed with him, Kgathi claims, in that there was no violation of regulations by members wearing party regalia at a BDP event, ‘‘the impact of his association of the said people with me had already been felt as most people had to go back home and did not return to cast their vote’’. Kgathi said he provided Letsholathebe with the contact number of Bobonong Police Station Commander but when he followed up on the matter, Letsholathebe told him that the violence had subsided and that he needed not to involve the police. Reached for comment, Letsholathebe said he has done his part professionally and has submitted clarifications to the Regional Committee where they sought his input in the allegations raised by Kgathi.
Kgathi also claims that Section 10 of the BDP primary elections regulations was not adhered to because while it stipulates that election officers shall not be members of the Branch where the election is taking place, in the case of Gobojango, Semolale and Mabolwe the ward chairperson who according to Kgathi also happened to be a campaign officer of Kgoboko was assisting the election officers and finally came carrying a box containing ballots.
In the documents served on Tsholetsa House, Kgathi has provided a video and photos purportedly of Mamalela assisting in the election process. He ends his appeal with, ‘‘I therefore, submit and pray that the results of Bobonong Constituency Parliamentary election be declared null and void, and that a re-run be ordered’’.
Reached for comment by this publication, Kgathi only confirmed the veracity of the documents in our possession but refused to comment further, insisting the matter is still internal. For his part, Kgoboko expressed ignorance of Kgathi’s appeal. ‘‘Unfortunately, I haven’t seen his appeal papers nor am I even aware of his appeal so I’m constrained to make any comments,” he said.
Chairman of the BDP Electoral Board Peter Siele told this publication on Sunday that they have given the Regional Committees the powers to exercise and apply their determinations on the appeals that have been lodged. ‘‘Only where they feel or see the need to escalate the matters will the Central Committee through the Secretary General, the Electoral Board and the Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) intervene,” Siele explained.
BDP insiders have raised questions on the procedure adopted by Kgathi and whether it complies with party regulations.
For his part, Letsholathebe told this publication that as far as he is concerned, he carried out his assignment diligently and professionally. ‘‘The Regional Committee has approached me for further clarity on issues raised by Kgathi and I have submitted the full account of what happened,’’Letsholathebe said.