Monday, March 4, 2024

Balopi “shocked” by UDC petition allegations

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi has dismissed as outrageous allegations contained in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) election petitions.

The contents of the petitions place the Secretary General at the centre of what the UDC calls “corrupt or illegal practices to influence and distort” the outcome of the recently held elections where the BDP retained its grip on power.

While Balopi has said he would not want to dwell on the details of the UDC petitions which were still sub-judice for fear of compromising his case, he said it was important to clarify the BDP’s stance in relation to the allegations.

“The BDP have done everything within the confines of the electoral laws and the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) has always been and remains open in terms of their checks and balances.”

Balopi has denied the UDC key witness Moemedi Baikalafi was at any point a member of the BDP campaign team, describing the witness as an ordinary party activist like any other.

“The last time I heard of Moemedi Baikalafi was when he was reportedly assaulted by BPF (Botswana Patriotic Front) activists in Palapye prior to the elections. He has been nowhere near the party’s national campaign team.”

Speaking to this publication on Friday November 29, 2019 Balopi said while he was not aware of the motivation behind Baikalafi’s “outrageous” allegations, he knows that some people are driven by “selfish motives”.

In his petition for Gaborone Bonnington North UDC President, Duma Boko, states Baikalafi was part of the BDP national campaign team that included Balopi, BDP Head of Strategy Dr Comma Serema, and Head of Communications Kagelelo Banks Kentse. Boko’s petition alleges that in or about June 2018 a meeting attended by BDP President Mokgweetsi Masisi , Balopi, Serema, BDP Treasurer Satar Dada, Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Brigadier Peter Magosi,  and Baikalafi was convened at Tsholetsa House at which meeting President Masisi expressed his concern of losing elections …and made it clear that he should win the elections ‘by all means’.

Balopi has however questioned Baikalafi’s credibility as a witness for the UDC. “If the very founding principle of your allegations is baseless, then you have absolutely no case,” Balopi told Sunday Standard. The petition paints the BDP Secretary General as the mastermind behind the alleged ‘corrupt or illegal practices’.

“It is nonsensical that the UDC would even place me at the centre of their allegations. It is just a continuation of their malice against me,” Balopi said. “But I am not worried because I know the truth.” According to Boko’s petition Balopi, Masisi, Magosi, and Dada devised a plan to pay the IEC voters’ registration officials to issue more than one voter’s registration card per individual to be selected, who would subsequently cast votes for the BDP.

Balopi, the petition states, gave Baikalafi P16 500.00 and a list of coordinators Baikalafi was to manage. In Baikalafi’s estimation, the petition says, the total number of people registered to vote more than once in the Gaborone Bonnington North Constituency is over two thousand, accounting for at least four thousand votes for the winner and Boko’s BDP rival Annah Mokgethi. “There were observers at the elections. Verification of ballots was done. Nobody complained then. These are shocking allegations that the UDC are making. Even the BDP have lost some constituencies and we have accepted the results because Batswana have spoken,” Balopi said. The UDC has filed petitions with the High Court against elections in more than a dozen constituencies most of them in the Southern part of the country.


Read this week's paper