The Central Committee of the Botswana National Front is scheduled to meet today (May 8) in Palapye and one of the hot-potato issues that the Committee will deal with is the suspension of former Mogoditshane MP, Mokgweetsi Kgosipula.
Kgosipula is the spokesperson of the presidential campaign by Dr. Baatlhodi Molatlhegi, who is challenging Duma Boko for the party’s presidency. Acting on a tip-off about an alleged plot to rig upcoming elections, Kgosipula rushed to the party office in Gaborone where he found some staff members. Officially, the latter were printing party T-shirts but Kgosipula and others in Molatlhegi’s campaign strongly believe that they were printing membership cards in order to sneak in delegates who wouldn’t otherwise qualify to vote in an upcoming elective congress. In a subsequent interview, Kgosipula said that the BNF was doing what it has accused the Botswana Democratic Party of doing in the 2019 general election – rigging. Following these utterances, Kgosipula was suspended by the Lentsweletau-Mmopane Constituency. The suspension letter says that “your utterances of telling the whole nation that BNF is worse than BDP did not only drag the name of the BNF into disrepute but shocked BNF members nationally.”
This issue came up at the last meeting of the BNF Central Committee. A source says that Boko, who described the rigging allegations as an act of “indiscipline”, wanted Kgosipula expelled from the party. Those opposed to this idea said that there was reason to suspect that office staff, who are known Boko supporters, were up to no good and that, in that regard, Kgosipula’s words were justified. To Boko’s point that Kgosipula should have raised his concerns internally and should not have gone to the press, they rebutted by saying that such discretion didn’t produce results for Motshwariemang Kesiilwe, the losing presidential candidate in elections for the Women’s League. The contest was held in March and to date, the party leadership has not acted on Kesiilwe’s complaint that the election was rigged in favour of her opponent, Dr. Bonang Nkoane.
Two other members (Justin Hunyepa and Nelson Ramaotwana) in the 18-member Central Committee were in support of Boko’s idea but the rest were opposed to it. Ultimately, the meeting failed to make a resolution on the issue but is expected to do so today when the Committee meets in Palapye. The source says that among the dissenting voices was that of the Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa, who typically sides with Boko. Mohwasa is said to have pointed out that Kgosipula’s expulsion would be a drastic action. His own suggestion was that Kgosipula should be given a final warning and only expelled if he persists in his supposed misconduct.
As this saga unfolds, the leadership of the Lentsweletau-Mmopane Constituency is itself becoming a subject of controversy. Its committee is said to be pro-Boko and reportedly doesn’t want Boko opposed for the presidency. The committee’s election took place was before Molatlhegi geared himself up to challenge Boko. The committee is also said to favour former Lentsweletau-Mmopane MP, Vincent Seretse, over Gilbert Watshipi, whom the party fielded for the 2019 general election. A long-time BDP member, Seretse decamped to the BNF last year after losing to Nnaniki Makwinja in a re-run of the BDP’s primary elections. His appeal to the BDP Electoral Board was unsuccessful and he was among those who fell from grace when Mokgweetsi Masisi replaced Ian Khama as BDP president. Having joined the BNF and now aligned to Boko, Seretse could face off with Makwinja in another political contest of a different nature. At this point, Boko would, in anticipation of becoming the president in 2024, be thinking of assembling MPs who would support him in parliament. Seretse is emerging as someone who could be useful to Boko in that regard.
As Kgosipula faces the chop, one very interesting detail of the alleged rigging has been revealed. Molatlhegi’s campaign played hard ball with Boko’s, forcing the latter to accede to its demands that the records be perused. The result was that an IT technician was brought in and the records that he pulled up from the computer proved that a total of 101 names were registered a day after the deadline.
An April 22, 2022 statement from Hunyepa, who is BNF Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa, says that the Executive Committee met on April 20 “and resolved to have the computer system processing the cards shut down and should not be accessed by anyone until the youth congress (30th April 2022) is over. This has been effected by a private consultant and no one has since accessed the card-processing platform since Wednesday. This means that no new membership forms are being captured; no new cards are being printed.”
However, Sunday Standard has been favoured with documentary evidence that shows that the same computer system was accessed on April 21, 2022. The Central Committee, which has Molatlhegi’s supporters, has since resolved that people whose names on the controversial list will not be used at the upcoming national elective congresses.
The people whose names are on the list are either from mostly Kweneng and North West regions and only three names are from the South Central Region. The entries follow in this order: ordinal number, surname, first names, membership number, region, constituency and ward, day, date and time of registration, the first name, of membership number 11786, was registered at Kweneng Region, Mogoditshane, Mogoditshane East was registered on Thursday (21/04/2022) at 1102. So registered, those names became part of the voters’ roll.