The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been barred from contesting the Francistown West by-election. By 1700hrs on Friday evening the BDP had not submitted a name for a parliamentary candidate to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); the organiser of elections. The outcome of the nomination process has been confirmed by IEC secretary Gabriel Seeletso. Although the constituency is a BDP stronghold, the party is not on the list of those who will run for elections.
“The BCP, BPP and two independent candidates have been able to register to contest in the upcoming by-election,” Seeletso told the Sunday Standard in a brief interview. He explained that BDP was unable to officially record the name of its candidate because there was no court order directing that a name be submitted to the IEC. Moswaane was so unlucky that he could not even register as an Independent candidate “The returning officer had a court order from Thursday. We were abiding by the court order and they had no court order to vary the temporary ruling by the court,” said Seeletso.
On Friday the Lobatse High Court ruled in favour of Whyte Marobela, and directed the BDP not to submit Ignitius Moswaane’s name to the IEC as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the Francistown West by-election until the BDP central committee had decided Marobela’s appeal on the outcome of the primaries. “The deadline time was 5pm on Friday and the parties that will contest the primaries are the BCP’s Dr Bahaudi Hobona, Botswana People’s Party’s Shathiso Tambula and Independent candidate Kago Phofuetsile and another independent candidate,” he said. Despite sitting to decide Marobela’s appeal on the eve of the nomination day, the BDP leadership failed to timeously rush to court to change the temporary ruling to enable it to field a candidate. At the time of going to press the party the party chairman Guma Moyo and Secretary General Mpho Balopi were reportedly locked in a meeting. Francistowners will go to the polls on the 23rd of this month.
The party leadership has dismissed Marobela’s complaint that the primaries were marred by irregularities and said that there is no reason for the primary elections to be set aside. It has pointed out that there was no evidence that the cards were distributed improperly and that there was no evidence that Moswaane bought votes by enticing voters with alcoholic beverages. “Taking into account the totality of the complaints raised by you, the Central Committee has come to the conclusion that none of the complaints raised above resulted in a primary election which was not substantially free and fair.Moreover, the Central Committee noted nothing in any of your complaints that, even if established, would have resulted in a different outcome. In other words, such complaint would not have affected the results given the wide margin of victory by Mr Moswaane(Marobela 387 votes,Moswaane 1039 votes,Phofuetsile 103 and Sengalo 94)….,” a letter from BDP secretary general balopi addressed to Marobela reads in part.
However, Marobela insists the appeal hearing and decision is a sham. He said that although he had not had an opportunity to formally respond to Balopi’s letter it the impartiality of the central committee over an uncontested appeal is questionable. He said the tone of the letter dismissing his appeal clearly shows that the party leadership was biased. “Why did they omit to give me a right to be heard? They wanted a quick solution to go and nominate instead of addressing my concerns….I was on the ground and I was a victim of those irregularities,” said Marobela. “Am not happy that the party will not be able to contest but I had expected the central committee to include me in the appeal process,” he added.