Botswana National Front (BNF) hopefuls in the Gaborone South constituency have agreed that primary elections which were scheduled for this past weekend be postponed to July 7th to deal with infighting inside the party.
The party is divided over which candidate should represent the party in the constituency.
There are concerns among members that a lack of consensus will lead to vote splitting.
Names that have been touted to represent the party are those of former Gaborone mayor Nelson Ramaotwana and former trade unionist and the party’s current Public Secretary Justin Hunyepa.
This past Friday, BNF’s Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa was at pains to explain why the party decided to postpone the primary elections in the area.
He said BNF has decided to defer its primary elections to deal with some internal issues relating to voters roll.
Gaborone is deemed the BNF’s spiritual home, having been represented for years by Dr Kenneth Koma ÔÇô the late BNF founder and leader.
But a BNF insider said it is not only the issue of voters roll but the fighting between Ramaotwana and Hunyepa.
The insider said there were some issues which Ramaotwana felt uncomfortable with and wanted the party to intervene to avoid repeat of 2013 primary elections which divided the party ahead of 2014 General Elections.
The insider also revealed that Ramaotwana was unprepared as compared to Hunyepa arguing that if an extension was not granted it was going to be a straight forward win against Ramaotwana.
Mohwasa said there was going to be ‘mess up’ if the primary elections were to go ahead as scheduled in Gaborone South.
Contacted for a comment Hunyepa said “We are not fighting each other but we allowed the postponement to iron out some internal issues because mind you in 2013 the party was troubled by internal fighting resulting in BDP having an upper hand. This time around we don’t want a repeat of that.”
Hunyepa also denied reports that he and Ramaotwana do not see eye to eye.
He said Gaborone South is not a BDP stronghold arguing that the opposition is aware of the 10 year period in which the constituency was in the hands of BDP.
Hunyepa said its either “you win or lose and that’s the nature of elections and anyone who is expected to participate in the upcoming primaries must learn to live with the outcome of the election.”
For his part, Ramaotwana distanced himself from allegations that he was involved in a committee which forced the election to be postponed arguing that the committee has relied on the constitution of BNF to allow for a verification of the voters roll.
He said it was proper for the party to verify its voters roll and not him.
“It is BNF Constitution which allows competition where elections are free and fair or to win freely and lose freely. I don’t hold grudges to anybody and whoever said I forced the election to be postponed was just doing malicious propaganda. I’m prepared like yesterday to win the primary election,” said Ramaotwana.
Gaborone South Constituency election Officer Ezekiel Dube confirmed that the voters roll was not verified and as per the rules and regulations of the party they were obliged to ask for postponement to ascertain names and number of voters in the voters roll.
In 2013 Gaborone South Primary election Murray Dipate was voted as BNF’s Parliamentary candidate after garnering 692 votes against Meshack Mthimkhulu’s 602 and this led to Mthimkhulu lodging a complaint which he lost. Since he was unhappy with the decision, he then dumped BNF and stood as as Mokoko during the general election and he later dumped the BNF to join the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).