Sunday, May 9, 2021

BDP Youth Congress leaves more divisions in the party

Scores of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Youth wing members who felt hard done at their just ended congress in Masunga have threatened to resign from the party and join opposition.

They are unhappy that the main party leadership is interfering in Youth issues including favoring some candidates over others.

On Saturday Andy Boatile made history when he retained his position as BDP Youth Wing Chairperson for the second time after garnering 212 votes against his rivals, Thabo Autlwetse and Mpho Setuke who got 140 votes and 51 votes respectively.

Boatile’s victory was not without controversy.

Drama ensued a few minutes before the elections when one Jerry Chiduke who was also in the chairmanship race disappeared.

His supporters say Chiduke was arrested by law enforcement agents.

Reasons for his arrests are not known.

After his arrest, the two teams that supported Chiduke from Ghanzi South and North then boycotted the elections claiming that their candidate had been set up.

“They have not explained to us why he was arrested. We feel that they did this deliberately because they do not want him to be part of the chairmanship race. He is quite a threat as he has enough support. We as his supporters feel that there is no need to participate in these bogus elections. We are not surprised that these elections are not fair because the leadership is in favor of Boatile,” one of Chiduke’s supporters told this publication.

Yet another set of disgruntled members who had supported Thabo Autlwetse blamed the BDP secretariat for favouring Boatile.

“Boatile has not added any value to the BDP Youth Wing since his first election. Unlike other candidates, Boatile was treated with kid gloves and he was afforded party resources to boost his campaigns. He even started his campaigns early despite the fact that the campaigns were still closed. The campaign ground was not level. The BDP leadership was aware of his misconduct but no action was taken,” queried some of the disgruntled youth.

They also accused Boatile of being incompetent and irresponsible as he failed to address problems be-devilling the youth in the party.

In an interview with The Telegraph after his victory, Boatile said that he won the elections for the second time because the youth still have confidence in him. He said that when he first assumed office as the Chairman of the BDP Youth Wing he made sure that he brought political empowerment into the youth.

“When I first took over the office one of the important issues that I tacked was political education on politicians. Under my leadership, a high number of young politicians in the BDP have won elections. I am one person who believes in honesty and hard work hence my victory. It shows that the members still have trust in me. This time I want to work on plans to improve the welfare of councilors by advocating for their economic empowerment.
Those who say I won because I was favored by the leadership are just making political statements which I cannot comment on,” he added.

Giving his view, the election loser, Autlwetse accepted the results but was unhappy with what transpired at the branch levels prior to the elections.

“I wrote a letter to the BDP secretariat complaining about some of the irregularities which happened during the campaigns at branch levels. I advised the party that procedures should be followed. I am however not going to protest the elections and I remain hopeful that the BDP secretariat will act urgently to improve next time and see to it that procedures are followed,” he said.

The position of Secretary General was won by Simon Mavange who got 231 votes against his rival Lesego Kwambala who only amassed 111 votes.

Tuelo Metseyabeng, Khumo Lekoko, One Lekau and Kudzani Tobokani were elected unopposed to the positions of treasurer, vice chairperson, vice secretary and political officer respectively.

Reached for comment the BDP Deputy Executive Secretary, Lee Lesetedi could not be drawn into the allegations that the independent candidate, Chiduke was arrested but only said that his name was not among the contenders hence his failure to contest the elections.

“What I know is that his name was not among those who wanted to contest for the chairmanship and no one seconded him. I cannot comment further,” said Lesetedi.

He said queries on favoritism could be referred to BDP Secretary General, Mpho Balopi.

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