The Botswana Democratic Party has lost yet another councillor, this time in the constituency of vice president Mompati Merafhe.
Mahalapye North councillor, Gaomotho Selato, resigned from the party last month in protest against the outcome of the primary elections. The resignation was communicated in a letter to the branch and Shoshong-Mahalapye regional committees.
The BDP’s executive secretary, Dr. Comma Serema, confirmed that his office had been notified of Selato’s resignation. Selato confirmed to Sunday Standard, that he would stand as an independent candidate in this year’s general election.
Sore loser is what some would describe him but Selato, who lost to a relative newcomer to BDP politics, sees himself as a victim of underhanded politicking that involved a councillor colleague from another Mahalapye Ward.
In his resignation letter, Selato accuses the party leadership of not treating members equitably. His complaints are not new because prior to the election, he protested about voter trafficking, about the voters’ roll being fiddled with and about his supporters not being issued with party membership cards they would have used to vote. About the election day itself, he complained that contrary to what the rules say, the other side campaigned during the voting. A party veteran who has served for years in the central district council, Selato lost by 69 votes to a virtual greenhorn.
After the election, Selato took the matter up with the regional committee but lost on account of not having followed the rules himself. The BDP’s primary elections’ rules say that any complaint about anomalies that occur during voting has to be immediately brought to the attention of the presiding officer. In throwing out Selato’s appeal, the regional committee said that his protestation came not during but after the election as should have been the case. He appealed to the central committee but fared no better because the regional committee’s earlier decision was upheld.
For his part, Selato denies that he complained too late in the day. “I complained during the voting,” he insists.
Although he has left the BDP, this is not the last the party has heard of Selato. Upon the conviction that he has enough supporters to win in the general election, he is running for re-election as an independent candidate.
“After the election, I plan to return to the BDP whether I win or lose,” he says.
Faced with an unprecedented number of primary election losers running as independent candidates, the BDP leadership decided to expel this lot from the party and decreed that they would not be allowed back into the party. Selato’s case is rather unusual because he was not expelled from the party but resigned of his own volition. On that basis the debarment rule should not apply to him but it will.
Serema says that the regional committee tried to dissuade Selato from leaving the party but all that effort was in vain.
For that reason, he stands no chance of rejoining.