Controversial Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth activist Kabelo Mhuriro Masvingo has come out with guns blazing over his party’s handling of his suspension. The Botswana Gazette is in possession of a series of letters exchanged between Masvingo and Secretary of the BDP Disciplinary Committee Ame Makoba and Chairman of the BDP Communications and International Relations sub-committee Thapelo Pabalinga.
Masvingo’s troubles with the party started with his Facebook comments which saw Pabalinga writing to the Disciplinary Committee on 17th May 2017 raising a complaint against Masvingo. In the letter, Pabalinga notes that at its July 2016 Mogoditshane Extra Ordinary Congress, the party issued a blanket caution to all party members to desist from attacking the party through social media. He pointed out that for some, this caution fell on deaf ears as there are some extreme cases of members who openly attack the party or some party members.
‘‘In view of the above, on behalf of the Communications and International Relations Sub-Committee, I hereby formally register a complaint and recommendation for disciplinary action against messrs Kabelo Masvingo, Kgwarae Mhuriro and Ogaufi Nthobelang on the basis of the attached print outs of their utterances. Their actions are contrary to points number 5,6,7,9,11 and 12 of the BDP General Code of Conduct as contained in the constitution booklets,’’ reads Pabalinga’s letter of complaint.
Two months later, on 11th July 2017, Secretary for Disciplinary Committee, Ame Makoba, wrote Masvingo a letter titled ‘Statement of complaint against yourself’. In the letter, Makoba states, ‘‘I hereby give notice to you on the complaint against you which led to your suspension on 11th May 2017’’. Interestingly, while Makoba states the suspension date as 11th May, the complaint from Pabalinga came on the 17th May, meaning therefore that Masvingo could have been suspended a week before the complaint against him was issued.
Masvingo has since issued a no blows barred response to the party concerning his suspension. In his letter dated 18th July 2017 and addressed to the BDP Disciplinary Committee, NYEC Secretary, NYEC Political Board Secretary and BOMASE Regional Committee, Masvingo comes close to labelling Pabalinga’s committee as backward and non-progressive. In fact, he wrote, ‘‘ The allegations sort to belong to myself not only are they defamatory, they lack the spine of progressive intellectual monitoring, in short, they are an insult to the purpose of the committee Mr Pabalinga heads’’. Masvingo also challenges the delay in issuing him with the charges levelled against him. ‘‘It is noticeable it took exactly 61 days for myself to receive charges labelled against Yourstruly in the form of screenshots alleged to have been posted/sent by Yourstruly in various social media platforms,’’ he wrote in the letter.
Masvingo, who defected to the BDP last year after making a name for himself in opposition politics through his activism in the BMD, expressed his disappointment over the charges he is facing, noting that at a time when the BDP finds itself as a party that is supposed to be genuinely advancing its policies and attracting more youth to its fold through various platforms, social media inclusive, it is ‘‘unfortunate that our Communications and International Relations Committee has itself resorted to rumour mongering, defamatory and unlicensed censorship of Facebook accounts, in extension, pseudo accounts.’’ The fiery youth renegade also offered to help Pabalinga and his committee with social media policy. ‘‘I will like to suggest to Mr Pabalinga and his committee to visit one of our local bookstores and purchase a book Yourstruly published titled ‘‘A GUIDE THROUGH THE USE OF ONLINE MEDIA: SOCIAL MEDIA,’’ Masvingo wrote in his letter, further saying ‘‘I will further extend my helping hand to Mr Pabalinga and his committee by crafting for them a social media usage policy genuine for our party members and reflective of the complexities of today’s advancements’’. He concluded by stating that as his 60 days of suspension had elapsed and that the disciplinary committee must write back to him indicating a failure to find him guilty and that any action contrary would be unconstitutional. Reached for comment, Pabalinga said he was constrained to comment on Masvingo’s letter because the matter is still before the Disciplinary Committee.