Friday, March 1, 2024

Election rigging scandal rocks BDP council caucus

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) party caucus held on 21 January to conduct elections for council chairpersons and their deputies in the Kweneng District Council (KWDC) was declared null and void amid allegations that voting was rigged.

The elections follow the government’s decision to establish new councils across the country.

It is understood that tempers flared between the two camps over the handling of ballot boxes resulting in the voting being declared null and void.

One of the camps accused the other of incorrectly handling the ballot boxes at the counting centre. It is understood that some genuine boxes were recovered under a desk after they had been replaced with fraudulent ones.

In a brief response to The Telegraph’s inquiry, BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said an inquiry will be held and explanation sought. 

“Caucus elections happened and there were some reported discrepancies and complaints; the party is dealing with it.” He added that “elections will likely take place today (Monday 23 January 2022.”

However, Kentse would not be drawn into further details saying “I can’t discuss that.” This publication sought to establish some of the specific issues raised by those who had filed a complaint citing election fraud and vote rigging.

An independent investigation by this publication suggests that one of the camps had replaced genuine ballot boxes with fraudulent ones. The ballot boxes were discovered a few minutes after counting had begun. The genuine ballot boxes were found lying or hidden under one of the tables while the fraudulent ballot boxes were on the table.

There were even claims that one of the windows where counting was conducted was left open as part of the elaborate plan to sneak out with the genuine boxes. But after the plan to sneak out of the counting centre with the fraudulent boxes failed, they were hurriedly kept under the table. It is said a search was launched and the legitimate boxes were recovered from underneath the table. One of the camps was alerted about the irregularity after the number of ballots in the fraudulent ballot boxes did not match the number of voters or councillors who had voted. “We were then alerted about this discrepancy,” said a source who added that; “Our fears were confirmed when the boxes were found deliberately hidden underneath the desk.”

Reports indicate that as the BDP caucus is binding, all those who win at the party caucus are expected to automatically win elections at the council chambers because members usually abide by the caucus decision.

The BDP article 32 of the caucus states: “There shall be a council caucus for each district, town, or city council comprising all party councillors in each council. The decision of the caucus shall be binding on each member. Each council caucus shall elect a chairperson for purposes of electing the chairperson/mayor of the council who shall thereafter become the chairperson of all caucuses or whoever he/she may delegate.” It also states that where the party is in the minority the person elected to chair shall become the caucus chairperson. At the time of going to press Allan Jacob had won chairmanship position as he garnered 16 votes while Motlhopi Leo who was defending the position got 14 votes. The position of Deputy Chairperson was won by Gontafetse Mokgosi who got 16 votes while Mokwaledi Otsile received 14 votes.

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