Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi has come out in defense of the Central Committee’s unconventional regulations for the upcoming national congress scheduled for July in Mmadinare. For the first time in the history of the BDP’s elective congress, central committee candidates and party delegates will have to submit their names to the party Secretary General for vetting, a month before the congress. While the move has been viewed by some party members as a witch-hunt to disenfranchise some candidates, Balopi is adamant the move was made in the best interest of the party.
“In fact the move is also made in the best interest of the candidates”, Balopi said in a telephone interview. He said they have realized that some unscrupulous elements go around telling people that some candidates have withdrawn from the race and by having the official list of candidates; people can always refer to the party to find out who is in the race and who is not. Balopi also said they want to make sure only BDP members in good standing seek election into the central committee. “We had Chitube who stood for Youth Wing presidency, only to learn on the eve of elections that he possessed a fake national identity and didn’t qualify for that position”, Balopi said.
He said BDP members should be grateful that their preferred candidates will be screened to avoid the disappointment that Chitube’s supporters went through. “We don’t want a situation whereby delegates feel hard-done in the event their preferred candidates get disqualified at the last minute”, he emphasized. He said the central committee was guided by article 30.3 which has a clause that outlines the processes that can be followed when it comes to issues of central committee elections. He said given the peculiarity of this year’s elective congress where a lot of people are vying for election, there was a need to effect amendments to the usual regulations where party members can declare their candidacy right from the floor during the congress.
Asked on what may lead to a candidate being disqualified, Balopi said those who campaign through the media stand the risk of being vetted out. “Some candidates are busy discrediting the party leadership and attacking other candidates through newspapers and radios and we will not allow this to go on as it can create disunity among democrats”, he said. Balopi denied that the central committee was targeting some individuals and said the regulations were introduced in good faith. He said by applying the new rules to everyone, it shows he is not targeting any single member of the party.
“Why would I be fetching the whole ocean if all I wanted was a cup of coffee?” he asked rhetorically. There have been allegations that the central committee is targeting Botsalo Ntuane after hiscampaign document titled, ‘BDP Reform Agenda Conversation; 22 Discussion Points’ was leaked and circulated in the media. In the document, Ntuane had warned the BDP that Ntuane has warned the BDP that if they do not introduce key electoral reforms, they will “go the way of the proverbial dodo”.