Comfort Molosiwa’s loss to James Olesitse has not dashed his hopes of running for the next parliament.
Over the past weekend, the Botswana Congress Party held its primaries in Palapye for the upcoming bye-election in which Molosiwa lost by a margin of 176. The result means that Olesitse will contest the Palapye bye-elections that come as a result of former area MP, Boyce Sebetela, having resigned his seat to join the Debswana Mining Company.
Whatever the outcome of the by-election, the BCP will hold another primary election in preparation for the 2009 general election. That gives Molosiwa another chance to try his luck.
Although he was gracious about his loss, Molosiwa believes that he would have won if the electoral process had been conducted differently.
“We learnt very late ÔÇô just before Christmas – that only those with membership cards valid for 2008 would be able to vote. We had to run around collecting and submitting cards for renewal but they could not be processed as the office closed down for Christmas. The cards were only ready for collection a day before the primaries – which was very late for us. Obviously some of my supporters had given up hope of participating in the election,” Molosiwa says.
In all, Molosiwa says that the total number of the renewed cards was “close to 300.”
“Had that number been able to vote, the outcome of the election would have been very different. There is absolutely no doubt that I would have won but I still fancy my chances of winning. I’m going to run again for the primaries for the 2009 general election and I expect to do very, very well,” he says.
As happens in other parties, there was the option of kicking up a fuss about the far from ideal scenario that he describes but Molosiwa chose to accept defeat.
One of the founder members of the United Action Party (Bosele) which joined other opposition parties to become the Botswana Alliance Movement, Molosiwa joined the BCP some five months ago. In the early stages of the process, Molosiwa’s candidacy was a source of controversy.
When Olesitse learned who he was contesting against, he protested to the party leadership on grounds that Molosiwa did not qualify to contest as he had not completed the mandatory period of membership before he could qualify to run for elective office.
The BCP’s primary elections regulations say that for one to contest for elections, s/he must have been a member for at least three months. Under that provision, Molosiwa, who joined the party in August last year, would not have been eligible.
When the party’s vetting committee was seized with the matter, President Festus Mogae announced to a kgotla meeting in Palapye that Sebetela was resigning his position as area MP. Against this development, the BCP central committee took a decision to postpone the primary elections until after Sebetela actually resigned from office. The result was that Molosiwa’s membership status was upgraded to enable him to run for office.