Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi has come under fire from irate party members who are accusing him of trying to manipulate the hotly contested central committee elections. BDP members cried foul after Balopi issued a press release instructing all members who want to stand for central committee positions to notify him in writing.
“Following the decision of the central committee on 18 May 2015, all BDP members who wish to stand for an elected position at the forthcoming national congress should inform the party Secretary General in writing about their intentions by 5pm before June 1, 2015,” read the memo.
He also warned party members that the BDP primary elections code of conduct will guide all party internal elections in 2015 including the national congress.
“Any party member who breaches the elections code of conduct will be held to account in line with article 14 of the BDP constitution and any of its associated clauses,” wrote Balopi.
However, BDP members have accused Balopi of tempering with the constitution in a bid to maintain a tight grip on the party even after the end of his term. Others have opined that the memo is against the BDP constitution.
“Nominations for central committee positions are done on the floor of the national congress. There is absolutely no need to inform the Secretary General. We suspect he wants to vet out unwanted candidates,” said a BDP member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Others described the resolution and embarrassing and misguided, saying the right of any party members to vote and be voted is fundamental and should not be regulated anyhow. They accused Balopi of trying to apply primary election rules on regulations on central committee elections.
“The BDP has no rules that govern the central committee elections. Balopi’s deadline is misguided. Article 30.3 and 30.4 are explicit on how members of the central committee are elected. The code of conduct that Balopi is talking about applies during primary elections and we really don’t understand why he released a fraudulent letter trying to manipulate central committee elections. We will not allow him to butcher the BDP constitution,” said another BDP member.
Balopi also came under fire last week after sacking Executive Secretary Sechele Sechele and his Deputy Lee Lesetedi, together with the head of political education and accounts manager. Party members reacted with shock to the news and immediately asked why Balopi would push for a retrenchment exercise just two months before the lapse of his tenure as Secretary General.
“Balopi is left with two months before he leaves office. Why is he pushing so hard for these retrenchments? Why can’t he let the incoming Secretary General to choose own secretariat?” they asked.
They further said Balopi sacked the current secretariat because it refused to do his bidding.
“He wants to impose stooges who will dance to his tune even when he is not Secretary General. He wants to control the BDP from outside. Whoever comes in as Secretary General will have a hard time controlling the new secretariat because it will be beholden to Balopi,” they said.
Balopi could not be contacted for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered. BDP’s Chairman of Culture Publicity sub-Committee Shaw Kgathi said he was not in a position to comment.
“I will be conflicted if I were to comment since I’m also vying for a position within the central committee,” he said.