If the courts fail us, we will take matters into our own hands
Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa says he will drag the Independent Electoral Committee (IEC) to court if they fail to investigate allegations of voter trafficking raised against his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) rival, Mpho Balopi.
Last month investigations by The Botswana Gazette identified twenty-eight (28) eligible voters who were transported from Maun to register to vote in Gaborone North after they were promised to be rewarded ‘‘handsomely” with P1000 each. This publication further revealed that the 28 voters were transported on a bus by a known local transport service provider from Maun to Gaborone and that their bus fare was paid by a lady identified only as “Sekao,” a caretaker for the trafficked voters during the trip and was also responsible for their recruitment in Maun.
A trafficked voter informed this publication that, ‘‘She (Sekao) just told us that if we agree to go and register at Gaborone North ‘‘re tla fiwa madi a a tlhwaafetseng’’ (we will be rewarded handsomely) by Mpho Balopi. A few weeks later, Balopi was accused of using the football tournament he recently organized in his constituency to lure unsuspecting voters from Mogoditshane to register in Gaborone North constituency by offering them P200 each. Balopi has denied any wrongdoing.
The area MP, Nkaigwa has accused Balopi’s campaign team of trafficking more voters on the final day of registration (Last week Sunday). “There was serious trafficking in Gaborone North from Friday (last week), by the BDP led by Rre Mpho Balopi. I was not really overly active on that day, but I had my team working on the ground observing the situation. On Sunday, which was the last day of registration, I was there present on the ground, to see what was happening first hand. I went to Motswedi CJSS, upon my arrival one of the BDP Council candidates in Tsholofelo East, comes driving one of these cars that were donated by Balopi, and he had people in the car, who had come to register. We then realized that, the people they were carrying are not from our constituency, we even took pictures,” Nkaigwa told The Botswana Gazette.
“We then went to Boitumelo Primary School, and we met the same BDP guys carrying people in cars from Mochudi, saying they had come to register. I joined hands with one UDC Councillor for Sebele, and we interrogated them one by one, and most of them claimed to be from Setlhoa Village, what was even more striking is that they had plot numbers written on their hands,” complained the MP.
Nkaigwa further claimed he even made several desperate attempts to seek for assistance from the IEC, but to no avail.
“I contacted a certain lady at IEC called Mma Ndlovu and told her about the situation that was happening on the ground, and her response was that I will lodge my complaint once the names were entered into the voters roll. Imagine! I am excepting an answer from an IEC official, as to how they can help us to deal with the situation, and this is what I got. It is after this, that I realized that we do not have an independent electoral board, I expected a better answer from Mma Ndlovu, especially a lady of her position, I even went to an extent of asking for contacts of her supervisors, and she refused to provide them with it,” continued the AP MP.
Nkaigwa revealed that he has joined forces with UDC Councillors and some disgruntled BDP members, to help them identify all individuals who have been trafficked into Gaborone North.
“I tell you, we will take this issue before the courts, both against the IEC and Balopi, and I can assure you that we will follow everyone who has been trafficked into this constituency, they will never have peace, and we are going to make sure that justice prevails, if the IEC is compromised we shall see. Even on election day, if we realize that we have voters who are not from Gaborone North, we will take matters into our own hands, and we will beat them up, I mean physically, we will not have people from other constituency come and take decisions for us and elect leaders for us,” stated Nkaikgwa.
When reached for comment, Balopi denied all allegations leveled against him, and advised that Nkgaikwa to report all his complains to the relevant authorities, rather running to the media.
“It is nothing but a smear campaign against me, Mr Nkgaikwa has never even seen me once at the registration centers on the last days, and for him to be making such allegations, is not right. If Nkgaikwa claims that I am trafficking voters, he should report this matter to the police and the IEC will take it from there, I expected so much better than from him as a legislator,” said Balopi.