Monday, September 21, 2020

BDP romance poisons primaries

The plot of a Mills and Boon novel is the last thing you expect to be the force of ground-shaking controversy in the Botswana Democratic Party but that happens to be the case.

Recently, the party fired some of its workers and suspended others for alleged misconduct. Part of the evidence that will be presented at a future disciplinary hearing is that romance gone sour set off a series of events that led to the discovery that some application forms for party membership were processed after the deadline.

The main culprit is a female data entry assistant who was working at the party headquarters on a temporary basis. She is supposed to have been involved with a male party official from the Central District (‘growing the party’ is what such liaisons are called in the BDP) but along the way this relationship ran out of romantic steam and fizzled out in a Tsholetsa House office. At the point that she received the bad news, the story goes, the unlucky lady fainted and thereafter vowed to take revenge on her ex-lover.

From what has been alleged, registration for the primary elections would have provided such opportunity. In their written statements, three co-workers of the jilted lover allege that she tried to get them to process application forms after the deadline.

When she was nabbed, the main culprit called her co-conspirators and asked them to implicate her former lover “because he had jilted her and had not treated her good in the relationship.” In another instance, she asked them to implicate a member standing against “mogolo mopalamente wa kgaolo” whom, from what one statement suggests, seems to have established a solid reputation for putting the fear of God into many party members.

When it starts deliberating, the party’s disciplinary committee will learn more from the horses’ mouths to be able to determine whether the romance-gone-sour narrative holds any water. What has been laid bare though is that the BDP’s data entry system – at least until the time the culprits were caught – is porous and quite possibly, criminally exploitable.
The party had set April 30 this year as the deadline for submission of application forms to Tsholetsa House. However, it happened that the culprits had access to the forms and such access enabled them to clandestinely receive late applications and enter the data on the system.

The primary elections process is basically a game of numbers and what seems to have happened is that last-minute campaigning by candidates yielded pledges of support.

Concretisation of such support would be in the form of valid membership cards because only those who have such cards can vote in the primaries. If a supporter did not have a card, s/he had to apply for it but as happened, some of the applications were made after the deadline. What is supposed to have happened is that some candidates and their operatives liaised with the culprits to find a way of sneaking in late applications into the pool of legitimate ones. The scam was exposed by some hawk-eyed party members in Gaborone.

According to statements made by the Tsholetsa House employees, money is supposed to have changed hands. The sums range from P700 to P5000 and at least three cabinet ministers and two MPs are supposed to have been in on the scam.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

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