The Botswana Democratic Party parliamentary candidate in Lobatse, Moggie Mbaakanyi, has been reported to the party leadership for breaking the party’s code of conduct.
Against the party standing rules, Mbaakanyi celebrated her victory against Leco Serema on December 9.
Mbaakanyi, who denies the charge, is supposed to have thrown a party at her palatial home in Lobatse where some 29 supporters were treated to “various alcoholic beverages.”
Mbaakanyi does not deny that there were indeed some party members who were drinking alcohol at her house on that day but, as she explains in a letter written in Setswana to the secretary of the southern region, that had nothing to do with celebrating her win.
She writes: “The complainants can bear testimony to the fact that the Mbaakanyi house has a bar which is always fully-stocked with different types of alcoholic and other drinks. We don’t buy alcohol only after the arrival of a visitor. For that reason, alcohol is not only consumed during celebrations for electoral victory. That is why the complainants themselves were offered drinks of their choice upon their arrival.
“Again, the Mbaakanyis are members of the Roman Catholic Church which does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. The complainants are regularly offered alcoholic and other drinks when there are no ceremonies.
“On account of our living standards, it is right and proper that we wash down food with drinks of any kind, especially when there is no bereavement.”
The precise wording with regard to the latter is as follows: “Ka maemo a botshelo jwa rona, go lebane ebile go a tshwanela gore dijo di jewe di patlilwe ke seno sa mofuta mongwe le mongwe, segolo bogolo fa go se mo losong.”
The complainants are a group of 11 party members who include five sitting councilors, among them Lobatse mayor, Legodile Serema. In its own letter, this group says that it visited the Mbaakanyi residence on the afternoon of December 9 where there was a “festive and celebratory” atmosphere. Among those who were reportedly celebrating was Mbaakanyi herself, her husband, who is the branch chairman, the Women’s Wing chair, the vice treasurer, two council candidates, the secretary of Peleng East, youth as well as an assortment of other party members.
“Some members were clothed in official BDP colours. Six vehicles were parked inside the premises. Upon our arrival, we observed that various alcoholic beverages were standing next to the respective participants’ chairs who were apparently enjoying a victory celebration, as cooler boxes apparently containing alcohol were evident and immediately upon our arrival, hidden behind a wall,” the complainants write.
In terms of the party’s Code of Conduct for Primary Elections, “pre and post primary elections celebrations of any kind are prohibited” and the penalty for such transgression is disqualification.
Another breach that the aggrieved point out is that contrary to a provision in the code of conduct, the branch committee shirked its responsibility to “facilitate and create an atmosphere conducive to party unity and foster a cordial working relationship between primary elections winner and unsuccessful candidates.”
On the other hand, Mbaakanyi says that were she hosting some victory celebration, she would have instructed her children not to let anybody in.
“To go into the Mbaakanyi home, one has to knock first and be either let in or refused entry. If we were hiding anything and if I knew I was breaking (party) rules, my children would have been instructed not to let anybody inside. All the (letter’s) signatories can confirm this,” Mbaakanyi says.
Her explanation is that the group of people found at her house that day ÔÇô who included committee members and election officers – were a combination of those preparing food and those being fed.
Additionally, she states that it is normal and not against BDP rules, for elective office candidates’ houses to have supporters come over after an election. Having won with a margin of 609, Mbaakanyi says that her celebrations would have been attended by way more than 29 people.
“The complainants can attest to the Mbaakanyi’s mastery in putting celebratory events together”. (“Bangongoregi ke basupi jwa bokgoni jo o RraMbaakanyi mabapi le thulaganyo ya meletlo.”)
Mbaakanyi’s letter further states that the number of cars parked outside their residence was far too small “when you consider the fact cars owned by the Mbaakanyi family ÔÇô our children included ÔÇô are far more than six. The day after an election, some of the cars used in the exercise would still be around. The leader of this group, MmaLesang, was heard boasting that her campaign had seven cars. Why then do people think that the Mbaakanyi campaign would have fewer cars than MmaLesang’s? Of the two, who is above the other? If we really wanted to hide anything, no car would have been parked outside because our yard can accommodate many, many cars.”
(“Palo ya borataro jwa dikoloi tse di fitlhetsweng e nnye thata, fa go akanngwa gore dikoloi tsoo RraMbaakanyi le tsa bana ba rona di feta borataro kgakala. Mme kana fa go letse go le ditlhopho, dingwe tse di letseng di thusa di santse di le gone foo. Moetapele wa lekoko le, eleng MmaLesang, o utlwile a ikgantsha gore o ne a na le dikoloi tse di mo thusang mo ditlhophong di le supa (7). Jaanong ke eng fa go akanngwa gore tsoo RraMbaakanyi tsone di nna palo e e ko tlase ga tsa ga MmaLesang? Ba bagolo ke bo mang mo bobeding?”)
Caroline Lesang, who signed the petition, is a Lobatse Town Council candidate. Mbaakanyi has sought to turn the tables on Lesang and Serema who she describes as the group leaders. She alleges that Serema used opposition Botswana National Front members as polling agents, that five days before the primaries Lesang threw a party for her campaign team at a residence in Delta and in the evening followed up with a barbecue at a shebeen across the street, that three days later the Lesang-Serema group threw another party (purportedly dubbed “night vigil for Moggie Mbaakanyi”) at a councillor’s residence and that on the election day itself, a convoy of cars in Lesang’s campaign were laden with “all kinds of alcoholic beverages as the voting progressed.” Mbaakanyi further alleges that after Lesang was declared winner, there followed merry-making that lasted the whole night and was stopped by the police.
Lesang denies ever sponsoring any such merrymaking, especially one that involved alcohol.
“I don’t drink, never did and don’t even know the names of alcoholic brands. And, unlike, MmaMbaakanyi’s case in my church ÔÇô consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited,” she says.
While Lesang and fellow petitioners want the December 9 incident to be investigated, Mbaakanyi has singled out Lesang to be called to a disciplinary hearing and to be banned from the party headquarters in Gaborone to nip her meddling in the bud.