Two hackers break into the BDP database

10 Aug 2018

Hackers have compelled the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to indefinitely suspend primary elections.

Elections were due to be held on Saturday.

The Telegraph can confirm that prior to cancelling the elections, the BDP had engaged a South African firm of IT experts to come and evaluate both the security and integrity of the party’s systems.

The report by the firm confirmed that the system had been hacked with the intention of manipulating the results of the primaries.

The Telegraph has further learned that the hackers had programmed the system to favour certain contenders over others by manipulating the voters roll.

The party’s Secretary General Mpho Balopi is expected to brief the media about the latest development today (Tuesday) at Tsholetsa House.

In an interview, Balopi told The Telegraph that evidence showed that the BDP servers were being manipulated from two points – one point is inside the country. Another point is outside the country.

“One hacker is based locally, the other is offshore,” said Balopi.

Another factor that led to the party taking the drastic decision to postpone the primaries is due to allegations relating to two executives based at Tsholetsa House tempering with the voters roll. They have since been slapped with suspension letters.

In a statement, Balopi announced that the Central Committee of the BDP at its meeting of 6th August 2018 after receiving a report on the preparation of primary elections decided to postpone the primary elections.

“The postponement was necessitated by the discovery of a compromise to the integrity of the voters’ roll of the Botswana Democratic Party in the form of a hacking of the roll Specific to the 38 held Constituencies which were the subject of the upcoming Bulela Ditswe (primary elections).”

He added that “If left unchecked the hacking will result in the Central Committee not delivering a credible election as required by the constitution of the Party. The Party is in the process of implementing corrective measures to ensure that this breach does not recur. As such, the primary elections set for the 11th August 2018 are postponed indefinitely.” Balopi added that the other constituencies Mochudi East and Molepolole will also be postponed indefinitely.

He said the Central Committee has called a high powered meeting for the weekend at Palapye where all those who were supposed to contest will attend.

According to Balopi, all Parliamentary and Council candidates for the upcoming primary elections are expected to a meeting to be addressed by the Central Committee in Palapye on 11th August. Also expected to attend the briefing session are the BDP Electoral Board, Strategy Committee, Regions and Branches of the party across the country. 

Insiders said that a combination of factors led to the Central Committee taking the decision to suspend the primary elections which were to be held in the 38 constituencies held by the ruling party.

It is understood that former President Ian Khama’s decision to openly campaign and support some of the candidates is one of the issues that the party is struggling to deal with as this has the potential to cause further strife within the party.

On Monday Khama was the guest at the launch of Fransisco Malesela Kgoboko Trust Fund in Mabolwe, Bobonong. He was invited by businessman Fransisco Malesela Kgoboko who is currently challenging the incumbent Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi.

 At the event, Khama fired a broadside at Kgathi as he accused him of attempting to prevail over him so that he does not attend the launch.