Otsweletse Moupo’s efforts to extend an olive branch to the disaffected members of the Botswana National Front faction loyal to his estranged former deputy, Kathleen Letshabo, suffered a major blow this week when the Elections Board resigned en masse citing interference by the BNF Central Committee.
The Board has always been perceived to be close to the Letshabo faction.
Moupo resisted calls by his radical supporters to disband the Board last year, opting instead to keep them as a gesture of reconciliation.
Since emerging victorious at a Special Congress, Moupo has expended a lot of time and energy trying to reassure the Letshabo loyalists that he had no intention to purge them from the party.
But fears have persisted, reaching the apex with the coming primary elections.
Different sides have started trading accusations with Moupo’s Central Committee accused of planting its loyalists to dislodge opponents and take over all the positions on offer.
In a strongly worded letter, the Elections Board led by Dr Lebohang Letsie say that they can no longer bear the excessive interference by the Central Committee.
In particular, they point to the decision by the Central Committee to postpone the deadline of the closure of primaries without consulting the Board.
“We believe that these changes are carried out with the motive to disadvantage certain individuals and favour others in the upcoming primary elections,” reads the letter in part.
While the Elections Board mass resignation is expected to throw the BNF primaries, scheduled for February into disarray, the BNF Publicity Chief, Moeti Mohwasa, says the party will appoint the new Board well in time.
“We expect to make announcements some time this week,” he said.
The Board says the actions of the Central Committee have eroded their independence.
“Our understanding of the Elections Board is that it will run independently, democratically and transparently, yet there is a perception that the Central Committee tends to regard the Board as “just another sub ÔÇô committee that needs not be consulted on major decision making regarding elections.”
The Elections Board ends by saying that “we do not want to be party to that.”
Mohwasa also refuted allegations by the resigning Elections Board that any major milestone dates for primaries had been changed unilaterally by the Central Committee without consulting the Board.