- Khama bows to pressure to replace Tafa with Siele
- “Tafa was difficult to handle”- Central Committee
- Siele Commission found Tafa’s board to have lost credibility
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee members have successfully negotiated a separation deal with electoral board chairperson, Parks Tafa, after working relations virtually broke down, The Botswana Gazette has learnt. Tafa has been replaced by former cabinet minister, Peter Siele, who was appointed by President Ian Khama to head a commission to review Bulela Ditswe and to make recommendations on how the system could be improved following the 2014 general elections.
The BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi in an interview with this publication said he is not privy to the details which may have led to the appointment of the new members as that is the prerogative of President Khama.
“I do not even know their agreement with the president or contractual details but what I know is that the president has the powers to appoint or drop a member from a position he appointed him to given the prevailing circumstances,” Balopi added.
Some sources within the Central Committee say it was a reciprocal type of deal. “Tafa was difficult to handle and convince and he obviously thought the same about us the Central Committee members. We proposed some changes and he wanted them done his way,” said a member of the central committee. Tafa however felt other committee members were too eager for changes due to pressure but not willing to follow established party processes to achieve them. The relationship eventually cracked and a parting deal was reached by the parties, insiders say.
Top of the dispute was the party’s primary elections, elections dates, response to the Siele Commission findings and proposed amendments to avert irregularities and disputes.The BDP had initially scheduled primary elections for opposition held constituencies for 21st October but they were delayed by three months.
Tafa posits that the Public Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) has no powers or legal authority to produce a voters’ roll and that if there are any changes to be made to Bulela Ditswe regulations, the party will need a Special Congress.
Another factor was that Tafa is a known Khama’s right hand man and that it was time to allow Masisi to assemble his preferred team. With Khama supporting and endorsing Masisi, it follows that he will accede to his demands and expectations.
In 2015, Siele who is now replacing Tafa found that the credibility of the Tafa-led electoral board was also questioned. “The credibility and performance of The Electoral Board was an issue which was also problematic. Some structures raised issues of perceived conflict of interest by some members of the Electoral Board. Its role was seen by some democrats as not being clear or helpful and as such they said that going forward, the role of this structure must be interrogated,” his report read in part.
In 2014, the Kweneng region sponsored a motion calling for the review of the party’s constitution and the powers of its legal advisor, Parks Tafa. The region resolved that it was improper for one person to be party legal advisor, electoral board chairman and advisor to the president.
Attempts to get Tafa’s response failed as he did not take calls or respond to messages from this publication. He however must feel free to reach out to The Botswana Gazette at any time to state his side of the story.