Monday, January 17, 2022

Tumelo’s candidacy in BDP primaries sparks controversy

Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Serwalo Tumelo’s participation in the recent delimitation commission and his subsequent decision to stand for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s primary elections in Mmadinare constituency have raised eyebrows among his opponents in the party.

Opponents accuse him of influencing the commission to remove Tshokwe village from Bobirwa constituency to Mmadinare. Tshokwe village has been part of Bobirwa village for a long time.

A BDP candidate who did not want to be named said it was improper for Tumelo to stand for election after he served in an exercise that directly determined the geography of the constituency.

“His cattle posts and his greater extended family reside in Tshokwe. We suspect he might have convinced the constituency to move this village to Mmadinare so that he can secure votes from his relatives in Tshokwe,” said the candidate.

In justifying the decision to remove Tshokwe village from Bobirwa constituency to Mmadinare constituency, the commission in its report said, “the residents of Mmadinare were unanimous in proposing that Tshokwe village should be excised from the Bobirwa constituency and incorporated into their constituency. They argued that the said village had very strong natural community of interest with Mmadinare and Tobane villages.”

However Tshokwe village was the only village that was added to the Mmadinare constituency while Foley village was removed from Mmadinare and incorporated into Tonota.

It is not clear if Tumelo had declared his interest in standing for elections before he participated in the commission. A member of the Delimitation Commission who served with Serwalo said he was disappointed.

“Clearly he has questions to answer,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo were futile as his secretary said he (Dibotelo) preferred a face to face interview. She was however not able to set the appointment.

The JSC is mandated by the Constitution to appoint members of the delimitation commission. However the Constitution does not allow persons who have in the preceding five years been actively engaged in politics or are public officers.

Sunday Standard could not establish the date Tumelo joined the BDP. Tumelo said he could not comment on the matter as the party primary election guidelines preclude him from speaking to the media. He would not even field questions on his participation in the delimitation commission saying the two issues cannot be separated.

Tumelo even refused to comment on accusations levelled against him regarding the removal of Tshokwe village from Bobirwa to Mmadinare.

BDP electoral Board Chairman, Parks Tafa told Sunday Standard in a telephone interview that he sees nothing wrong with Tumelo standing for elections.

He said no law that barred Tumelo from standing for elections. “There is no basis for him not to stand. This is nonsense, it is ridiculous. Delimitation has done its job, so what?” he rhetorically asked.

BDP primary elections will be held on the 2nd of November for constituencies North of Dibete and on the 9th November for constituencies South of Dibete.

Tumelo will slug it out with Assistant Minister of Health Dr. Gloria Somolekae, Kefentse Mzwinila, Arnold Moseki and Christopher Lejowa.

Incumbent Member of Parliament and Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe has announced that he will be retiring from active politics in 2014.

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