Venson-Moitoi camp trying to play the “victim card”

15 Mar 2019

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is reluctant to discipline former President Ian Khama along with other party renegades who allegedly convened an ‘illegal’ meeting in Serowe against party rules and regulations. There are fears that action against Khama would play into his hands and cast him as a victim, thereby winning him sympathy.

The sources claimed that the party members should have been warned and cautioned individually as a sign that the party was considering taking stern action against them instead of issuing ‘empty threats’ through a press statement.

But it has also emerged that the BDP secretariat does not want to fall into that trap set by the concerned members by sacking hundreds of supporters in the Central District as this could intensify strife or even lead to a split. “The concerned members are playing the victim card ahead of the Kang Special Congress,” said one of the sources.

In an interview, the BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said the party received a letter of complaint from their party structures in Serowe.

Balopi said the party’s Central Committee was still studying the letter before it could adopt a position on it or take action.

“We do not just react to the authors. We are still studying the letter first and then what we do is channel the letter to relevant party structures,” he said. He added that “we will take action after that.”

He would not be drawn into the details of the letter but it is understood that he was referring to a letter from Serowe West Brach Chairman, Steady Sethaba who wants action to be taken against party members who attended the meeting.

But hardly had the ink on Sethaba’s letter dried than some of the members who had attended the meeting were drafting a letter to Balopi. The secretary general said he is yet to receive the letter. The letter marked ‘received’ and bearing a BDP stamp is addressed to Balopi also dated 8 March 2019. The concerned members from Serowe stated that the BDP does not have rules and regulations for the conduct of spirant candidates in Presidential Campaigns. “As this is a first we would imagine that your role as SG (Secretary general) you have hastened to ratify that. We thus find the Secretariat in neglect of its duties, having failed over the years to develop a blue print for campaigns and educate Democrats consistently,” they said.

They added that “these rules are not being applied consistently and sadly these ‘rules’ are clearly applied in support of one candidate over the other.”

The letter states that “The statement you have penned, Mr Balopi, does not paint a very good picture of a party that believes in democracy. That is the BDP that many thousands of us have signed up for. We ask you to please stop with these threats.” The members stated that “We suggest that maybe you should consider preparing for the Kang Presidential Election, which is now inevitable.”

“We do not want any fall outs after these elections because of irregularities which so many of us sense will be the order of the day of the current behaviour of some of the members of the Central Committee, the National Strategy Committee and the Communications & International Relations Sub Committer are allowed to continue unchecked,” the letter states further.

The concerned members stated that in the absence of rules and regulations, the Venson-Moitoi campaign gave due consideration to respecting and remaining within the rules and general conduct of the party as a guide for its campaign.

They said conveners of the meeting held in Serowe on 24 February have never and did not claim to be a party structure. The concerned members want the Electoral Board to be reactivated provided that its current Chairman Peter Siele recuses himself. “Hon Siele has publicly endorsed His Excellency (President) Mokgweetsi Masisi, a choice he is entitled to make. He is therefore compromised and not suitable to lead an electoral board in need of partiality.”

The letter was signed by Kolobetso Thomas, Kedisaletse Gabaikanngwe, Rebecca Thomas, Dineo Molaudi, Entetse Botshwarelo and Leepetswe Lesedi.