Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bontshetsi denies links to BDP ‘dirty tricks’

Botswana National Front (BNF) candidate for Tonota South, Maokaneng Bontshetsi, who was recently recalled by the party, has dismissed as untrue claims by some insiders within the party that he was recently promised a loan of more than P100 000 by a businessman in the construction industry who is linked to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Claims were rife this week that Bontshetsi had a meeting with BDP Parliamentary candidate for Tonota South, Thapelo Olopeng, where a plan was hatched to derail the BNF’s plans to field a candidate at the last minute. But Bontshetsi shrugged off the claims as a smear campaign aimed at derailing him.
“I’m not going to entertain that because it is a smear campaign aimed at derailing me from focus.

How can I try to derail the party’s ambitions and interest for the area while I have from the start showed my interest as a candidate who wants to represent the BNF in this area?” he wondered.

It is alleged that the BNF had pledged to give Bontshetsi P36000 as a token of appreciation for paving the way for the current Tonota Member of Parliament Pono Moatlhodi who defected from the BDP this year.

“He is not being recalled because he had been talking to the media as alleged in the letter that was written to him. The gist of the matter is that the party believes that he is holding meetings with the BDP with a view to derail the BNF’s plans for the constituency,” said a source.

But Bontshetsi also denied the claims insisting that he was focused on ensuring that he ultimately represents the BNF in the area. Insiders also insisted that the plan is for Bontshetsi to launch a court case against the BNF at the last minute when it submits the name of its preferred candidate to Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), something that he denies.

“I’m not going to lose focus. As we speak I’m weighing options and consulting my family members and lawyers,” he said, suggesting that he is likely to challenge the party’s decision to recall him before the High Court.

It is also alleged that Bontshetsi was recently called for a meeting by the party leadership but he did not show up.

Insiders say Bontshetsi believes that he was unfairly treated by the party and wants to challenge its decision before the High Court. There are claims that Olopeng is behind the suggestion to seek legal advice.

“Those allegations are a smear campaign. You should understand that Olopeng is a relative and when I stop to greet him is seen as colluding with his party then that is unfortunate because no one can dictate to me as to who I should exchange greetings with and not,” said Bontshetsi, making reference to his encounter with Olopeng recently at one of the supermarkets.

It is understood that Bontshetsi had approached a lawyer in Francistown after being recalled by the party but the lawyer who is allegedly sympathetic to the BNF’s cause turned him down. “He was then advised to approach a lawyer in Gaborone,” said a source.

Contacted for comment, Olopeng also dismissed the claims. “They should not involve me in their mess. They should sort out their mess. As we speak I’m in Tonota because I’m trying to maximize BDP’s fortunes; we have to win with a big margin,” he said.

“I can’t waste my time with BNF issues. Let them sort out their mess,” he added.

Currently the BNF does not have a candidate for the Tonota South constituency after the party recalled Bontshetsi and indications are that Moatlhodi has been urged to apply.

Bontshetsi had been the unopposed candidate for Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which is joint project between the BNF, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP) until Moatlhodi defected from the BDP.

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