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BDP to vet out ‘dissidents’ in primaries

Publishing Date : 24 July, 2017


Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has toughened the rules for those willing to participate in the upcoming 2017 and 2018 party primary elections, with dissidents expected to be cast out in the process.

The ever controversy prone elections, also known as Bulela Ditswe this time comes around in a refined format. The first batch of elections will be held this year in October while the second will follow next year around the same time. This year’s primary elections will be conducted in 19 opposition held constituencies while the rest will follow suit next year. The troublesome 2013 Bulela Ditswe which registered a record 108 complainants resulted in the party initiating a commission of inquiry on the process. The elections also saw the party registering the highest number of disgruntled party members who went on to contest as mekoko.  The 2013 Bulela Ditswe was also attributed to the party’s dismal performance in 2014’s general elections.

The commission, headed by party veteran and former cabinet minister Peter Siele found out that indeed the system was prone to abuse and that the party should introduce more measures to ensure the credibility of the process.  Although there were suggestions that the system could be scrapped out, the party decided to stick with the system albeit with improvements and good monitoring systems. Those wishing to participate in the 2017 and 2018 BDP party primaries should toe the line or face the wrath of the new rules. According to the new document, seen by this publication one of the requirements for successful contesting elections includes “to have never violated the constitution and/or any of its regulations, process and resolutions in the 12 months preceding the application date.”

The requirement further states that the applicant should have never brought the party name into disrepute by undermining or attacking the party members through different platforms. This will be supported by the party’s general code of conduct. Several councillors have recently been charged with bringing the party’s name into disrepute by undermining the party’s caucus decisions. Two councillors in the North West District Council have since been expelled from the party. The vetting team will also look at factors such as satisfactory record of involvement in party activities, including but not limited to meetings of structures, rallies, mobilization and fundraising.

Those willing to participate would also have to be BDP members at least for a period of a year and should have not have been a member of an opposition party in the last two years. However, individuals may apply to the party central committee for a waiver.
The victory of President Mokgweetsi Masisi as party chairman and his faction also means his team will be in charge of the BDP primary election process. The vetting process is often pointed out as a tool used to purge political rivals. The central committee vets applicants and also determines those who wish to apply for a waiver if they do not ordinarily meet requirements.

In the past, individuals like Kgosi Tawana Moremi were vetted under unclear circumstances. Kgosi Tawana, who had wanted to contest in the 2003 primary election, was reportedly vetted out because he had previously criticised then Vice President and party chairman Ian Khama for flying Botswana Defence Force (BDF) aircraft. Kgosi Tawana also belonged to the now defunct Barataphathi faction, while the BDP Central Committee was A-Team controlled. In 2008, Sedirwa Kgoroba tried his luck to contest in the party primaries against Patrick Masimolole in Mogoditshane but was also vetted out. He was also reportedly vetted out because of his association with Barataphathi.

BDP primary elections were introduced ahead of the 2004 general elections in the aftermath of the increase in the number of constituencies. This saw the party doing away with the committee of 18, which was initially the organ responsible for choosing a candidate who would contest a particular constituency or ward.



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