Wednesday, June 23, 2021

BDP rallies behind Fidelis Molao

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s electoral board is on Monday expected to recommend that the central committee should dismiss a protest launched by candidates who were vanquished in the Tonota north primary elections.

While he did not disclose what they will report to the central committee, electoral board chairman Parks Tafa came short of saying the losers allegations were unfounded, adding “you will make your own conclusions after hearing the facts”.

The primary elections came ahead of the September 4th by-elections, occasioned by the passing of former Member of Parliament Baledzi Gaolathe.

Molao won the primaries with 778 votes, surpassing Onkabetse Daniel’s 534, Oliphant Mfa’s 364, Lewis Malikongwa’s 521, Daniel Moeng and Ipuseng Chikanda’s 355, and Molomo Ali Maano’s 308.
The losing candidates then launched a protest with the electoral board, alleging irregularities in the counting of ballots and demanding a recount. They also alleged that the election result did not tally with the number of people who voted and accused the electoral officer, Power Mmupi, of neglecting the ballot boxes.

During the primaries, it emerged that Molao’s ballots had not been counted properly by one of the returning officers. Before the elections could be officially announced, word was leaked to the candidates that Onkabetse Daniel had won the primary elections with 534 votes. But the electoral board later came with a different result, nullifying Daniel’s win and announcing Molao as the victor.

After the final result was announced, it emerged that a form from one of the polling stations was not accounted for. However, Mmopi later realised that the said form accounted for only 22 votes, and chose not to nullify the count as the 22 votes could not affect the overall result.
“An irregularity does not nullify the election outcome. The said polling station, with only 22 votes, could not affect a margin of 778-534. Therefore Mmopi decided that the results would stand,” said Tafa.

Daniel, Mfa, Malikongwa and Molomo then launched an appeal. Chikanda withdrew his protest after looking closely at the facts.

Tafa said the appellants alleged that a ballot box from one of the polling stations had not been accounted for, but failed to mention the polling station.

“They later mentioned two different polling stations. Luckily party Secretary General Thato Kwerepe was able to disprove their claim, and the appellants’ main allegation fell away,” said Tafa.
He also revealed that they received covert information that someone would come forward with a claim that she had found more ballot papers at the counting center. The officer later failed to explain how she found the ballot papers, and why she waited for over a week to inform the electoral board of the existence of such ballot papers.

The electoral board is on Monday expected to recommend that Molao be declared the victor. The BDP is anxious to launch their candidate and start vigorously campaigning to overcome the threat posed by BCP candidate Dr. Habaudi Hubona, who enjoys support from two other opposition parties.

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