Thursday, July 18, 2024

Khama strips BDP central Committee of its powers

President Ian Khama has given his personal lawyer Parks Tafa powers to run the Botswana Democratic Party on behalf of the party Central Committee. Instead of reporting to the party central committee in line with the party’s primary elections rules and regulations, Tafa who is an unelected party official has taken over the power of the central committee. Stoking speculations that a number of heads may roll in the BDP central Committee, Khama has given Tafa’s Electoral board executive powers. Tafa is no ordinary player within BDP politics. He is also the party lawyer, kingmaker and perhaps the only soul who knows Khama’s succession plan.

Tafa’s Electoral board has been given powers to determine re-runs and dates for the party primary elections. The Electoral board also has power to recall errant candidates. This power originally rests with the party leadership. Ideally the Electoral board is supposed to handle voters roll and supervision of the voting process, working under directions of the party leadership. Insiders revealed this week that this has widened the rift in the party leadership. Many members of the central committee are aware that they have been stripped of their powers but nevertheless remain helpless.

News that Khama stripped his central committee of its powers came clear last week after BDP councillors who won the primary elections in the disputed Serowe North-East constituency petitioned electoral board chairman, Parks Tafa complaining that he has no powers to call fresh elections in any constituency as that power lies with the central committee. The councillors had cited BDP primary elections regulations which confer the power to the central committee. This was after Tafa had written to all council candidates who contested the primaries inviting them to make representations regarding the Serowe North-East parliamentary results. In response to their petition Tafa has signalled that he is empowered to act on behalf of the party leadership.

Tafa says the electoral board has been given powers as per Article 34.1.5 of party constitution. The said provision gives the president powers to “give instructions on any matter to any official of the party and empower any member of the party to exercise any powers and specific functions for and on behalf of the party or central committee as may be valid and lawful.” Contacted for comment over these developments, Moyo refused to comment saying he does not want to say anything pertaining to Serowe North constituency. Asked whether he is aware that Khama has stripped off their powers as the central committee, party chairman again, refused to comment. In a strongly worded petition, the councillors asked Tafa why he wrote to them when they have nothing to with Serowe North parliamentary seat results. “It is not very clear to us why all council candidates were addressed in your letter. The only candidates affected are the two parliamentary candidates and council candidates for Patikwane Ward.

If for some reason it is intended to have a re-run in all the council wards, same would be in breach of the constitution of the party,” they said. The councillors said all the council wards results were announced and winners declared save only for Patikwane ward. “There being no appeals in respect of the council wards whose winners were declared, a re-run cannot be called without breaching the regulations.” The councillors also quoted clause 6 of the regulations which reads, “The date of the primary elections shall be determined by the Central Committee, and this date shall give sufficient time for preparations before national elections.” They said the clause gives the central committee powers to determine when the elections will be. “We are in an unfortunate position in that we do not know who made the decision to have a re-run for Patikwane ward because we have not seen any letter to that effect. If the decision for a re-run at Patikwane ward was made by the central committee, then it had powers to do so. And if the central committee made the decision for a re-run, the said decision is with greatest of respect wrong. It is wrong because the failure of the elections at Taukome could not change the result of the elections in respect of the whole constituency.

It is known by the polling officers at Taukome polling station as to how many people voted on the day. The number of people who voted at Taukome is determined by counting on the voters roll used there. Even without knowing the exact number of people at Taukome, it is safe to say they cannot amount to five hundred (500). That is, they are less than five hundred (500).” The councillors also said given that there was a result for the parliamentary elections notwithstanding the irregularity at Taukome polling station, the returning officer should have declared a winner so that any aggrieved candidate could appeal. However in replying their letter, Tafa said the electoral board had decided that there must be a re-run of the whole constituency and that the re-elections will be held on the 7th of December.

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