As the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) prepares for the party primaries, the party’s head of the elections, Parks Tafa, has threatened to disqualify candidates who are clinging on to members’ membership cards ahead of the primaries.
The membership cards are crucial for those wishing to vote at the party primaries.
The BDP’s Electoral Board says it has names of parliamentary and council candidates countrywide who are in possession of several membership cards and deliberately trying to disfranchise other party members from taking part in the party primaries.
The first batch of BDP primaries is scheduled for November 2 this year while the second batch of elections is expected to be held a week later on November 9.
Unlike in previous elections when candidates recruited and even distributed membership cards towards primaries, the committee has resolved that the distribution of membership cards should be the responsibility of the party’s branch committees.
In a letter addressed to all constituencies and copied to President Ian Khama the Elections Chief has announced that the voter’s rolls have been corrected and urges members to participate in the verification process.
Tafa states that “as when the corrected Voters Rolls and new membership cards arrive at the Constituencies, the branch Secretaries in all BDP regions country-wide will be required to convene general meetings across wards in their respective constituencies…” specifically to confirm the voter roll and collect their membership cards.
“The branch committees are to ensure that membership cards are distributed to the membership at the said general meetings at ward and cell levels under the strict supervision of members of the branch committees,” adds Tafa.
The Electoral Board insists that this time around all constituencies should keep a register of all membership cards irrespective of whether the cards have been collected or not. Perhaps to try and minimise electoral fraud, the committee wants the branches and ward committees to be given proof that the cards have been delivered to party members.
“Under no circumstances shall Parliamentary and Council Candidates be allowed to receive and distribute membership cards. The distribution should be done only through the ward Committees under the strict supervision of the branch committee to ensure that all membership cards are given to the party members without discrimination and/or interference by interested parties or persons who for one reason or the other, are conflicted or have a conflict of interest,” states the chairman of the BDP’s Electoral board.