BY JOSEPH BALISE
Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), a contracting member of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has imposed a 45 days suspension on its Tati East parliamentary candidate Mathodi Modisapodi.
Modisapodi’s suspension letter, signed by BPP president Motlatsi Molapisi on 24th July 2019 was confirmed by the party secretary general Venter Galetshabiwe in an interview with Sunday Standard newspaper.
Galetshabiwe explained to this publication that Modisapodi was suspended for having taken a lead role at the recent UDC president Duma Boko’s meeting in Francistown of July 9th where Boko had come to resolve outstanding ward allocations queries in Francistown West, Tati East and Tati West constituency.
The BPP alleges that instead of the constituency pleading its case before Boko, Modisapodi took up a leading role and mislead Boko to understand and believe that BPP party was only interested in at least only four wards in the Tati East constituency.
According to Galetshabiwe, that position of four wards was never agreed to by the party despite Modisapodi insistence and presentation to Boko which finally won the day at the end of the meeting. Galetshabiwe said BPP is completely dismayed by Modisapodi‘s lead role ahead of the constituency secretary and chairperson whom the party had mandated to present their case.
Further, Galetsabiwe maintains that the BPP position has always been clear that they wanted nine of the 10 wards in the Tati East constituency in contrast to Modisapodi’s presentation which sought the party to be allocated only four wards of Themashanga, Tshesebe, Senyawe and Siviya.
Galetshabiwe explained that the outcome of Boko’s meeting culminated in the BPP being allocated five wards after relentless pleadings for the award of an additional ward of Tsamaya.
Although Galetshabiwe was not in a position to divulge details of what obtains in the BPP, impeccable sources within the party indicate that Modisapodi, formerly a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) specially elected councillor, had identified the four wards she presented to Boko because she has ‘cordial working relationship with the council candidates for the wards’.
Although he was cagey on what could have led Modisapodi to mislead Boko, Galetshabiwe explained that to date the BPP is dismayed because they have always considered Tati Siding West, Ditladi, Matsiloje and Matshelagabedi to be their “political hub”, a fact that the BPP was denied an opportunity by Modisapodi to present to Boko for consideration for allocation to the embattled political party.
Further, Galetshabiwe explained that the four allocated wards to BPP upon presentations by Modisapodi demographically do not give the BPP the much sought after political clout compared to the ones that Modisapodi deliberately denied the BPP an opportunity to press for during Boko’s meeting.
In an interview, Modisapodi who is being suspended by her party for the second time pleaded ignorance of her suspension and that she was at the time of the interview busy conducting house-to house campaigns in the village of Siviya. She was suspended around March on accusations of misconduct, a suspension she was uplifted after she apologized according to Galetshabiwe.
“I am not aware of the suspension you are inquiring about. As we speak I’m currently busy doing house-to-house campaigns in Siviya ward as a UDC approved parliamentary candidate. I have not received the suspension letter you are talking about since the letter was never served to me. I am a UDC parliamentary candidate. UDC has long approved its parliamentary candidates so I do not know what the BPP is talking about. I really do not have a clue as to what the BPP leadership is up to”, said Modisapodi.
Asked on the communication mode the party used to inform Modisapodi of her suspension, Galetshabiwe said the party whatsapped the letter to Modisapodi and also requested her to pick the original suspension letter copy at the party office in Francistown.
“Modisapodi is cunning. If she is not aware of the letter, why did she respond to the whatsapp message regarding her suspension? Honestly she commented although I’m constrained from sharing with your publication her communication after she received the whatsapped suspension letter. Modisapodi knows very well that she was sponsored by BPP to represent them as a UDC parliamentary candidate for Tati East. This is so because Tati East was allocated to BPP during the constituency allocations. Modisapodi is under control of the BPP and in the suspension we made it clear that the suspension imposes on her conditions that she is precluded from using party name until her suspension is resolved”, said Galetshabiwe.
On whether Modisapodi’s suspension has been communicated to the UDC national executive committee and secretariat, Galetshabiwe said they are in the process of doing that. While the BPP is caught dithering in communicating the suspension to the UDC NEC and secretariat, it remains unclear on whether Modisapodi’s scheduled launch of August 10th will proceed as planned.
On the negative impact of Modisapodi’s suspension on the UDC chances of winning Tati East, Galetshabiwe acknowledged that obviously there will be “negative impact arising from the suspension on the UDC’s prospects of winning the constituency”.
Galetshabiwe however emphasized that it would not have been appropriate not to deal according with Modisapodi’s alleged transgressions simply because she had already been sponsored by BPP as a parliamentary candidate.
“We are a political party with rules and regulations that all members are obliged to follow to the letter. The rules are spelt out clearly for all members in the party constitution which must never be contravened”, said the party secretary general.
Galetshabiwe said during the 45 days suspension Modisapodi is barred from conducting any activity in the name of the BPP.
However, there is uncertainty in that Modisapodi seems to imply that she is not campaigning using the BPP name but instead using UDC name. to that extent, Modisapodi emphasized that she uses UDC materials in her campign and not that of the BPP.
How the impasse will be resolved remains unclear as UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa did not want to comment explaining that he cannot comment on BPP issues and further that it will not be fair to comment when the matter has not been formerly communicated to the UDC.
Meanwhile, sources within the party said Molapisi was yesterday scheduled hold a consultative Tati East constituency meeting in Tati Siding to inform the constituents on Modisapodi’s suspension and the way forward.
In another sorrow turn of events for the BPP, Mapoka sponsored BPP council candidate Adeline Kesebonye Gunda was not launched alongside her fellow council candidate colleagues recently at Masunga when Duma Boko launched Tati West parliamentary candidate Tshepo Makhani.
Boko is understood to have instructed the constituency committee to hold primaries to identify a candidate for Mapoaka ward.
In Francistown West, the Botswana Congress Party constituency committee resigned en masse in protest against how the wards had been allocated, in favour of the BPP.