11 October 2017

Botswana: BDP Postpone Primary Elections Indefinitely

Gaborone — Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has announced the postponement of all its primary elections indefinitely.

Addressing a monthly media briefing on October 10, the party secretary general, Mr Mpho Balopi explained that the reason for postponement was that the party was still awaiting the final determination of the case before the Court of Appeal for participation of civil servants in primary elections.

High Court Judge, Justice Modiri Letsididi had ruled that the Public Service Act (PSA) did not prohibit public officers from participating in primary elections.

However, government appealed the decision of the High Court, arguing that Section 5(5)(b) of the PSA does prohibit public officers from participating in primary elections.

Justice Letsididi's judgement came after the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and National Amalgamated Central, Local and Parastatal Manual Workers Union (NALCGPWU) took the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) to court seeking a determination on the legal interpretation of Section 5(5) (b) of the Public Service Act No 30 of 2008.

The lawsuit followed a November 2013 directive from the then PSP, Mr Eric Molale that prohibited all public officers from participating or voting in primary elections.

Mr Molale had quoted Section 5 of the PSA, which prohibits civil servants from being active members of political parties, or holding office in them. The determination of the case might be heard on the November Court of Appeal roll or early next year.

Mr Balopi however, explained that after the Court of Appeal's determination of the case, the party was at liberty to hold its primary election at any time.

He stressed that Article 7.1 of the BDP constitution clearly states that 'membership of the party is voluntary and open to all Batswana who accept the party's policies and programmes of action and are not members of other political parties or organisations whose policies and aspirations are incompatible with those of the party'.

On other issues, Mr Balopi told journalists the party's central committee had taken a strong decision that no candidate of the party would use Facebook or any social media platform in the meantime to sell themselves to the electorate while the party is still awaiting the court's determination of the case.

In addition, he said no candidate would be allowed to hold any political rally because some candidates might use such platforms for character assassination, thereby offending other candidates.

Instead, he explained that the party has resolved that candidates who wanted to campaign should only use the house to house campaign strategy because such a platform has never created any problem to the party.

The party secretary general also thanked Batswana who voted for the BDP at the just ended Tshimoyapula/Majwanaadipitse by-elections in which the party emerged victorious.

He said this was an evidence that the BDP was a trusted and growing party through its recruitment drive strategy, adding, 'BDP is an oiled and united machine which is determined and committed to serve the interest of Batswana at heart'.

He explained that this was because party members were committed in ironing their differences, hence the party continued to receive high numbers of new members.

Mr Balopi claimed that recently, the party received 120 new members from the Botswana Movement for Democracy in Tsau region, adding that the party also proceeded to receive 142 new members in the Western region and over 150 in the Lobatse region respectively, all being from the opposition parties.

The secretary general also vowed that the BDP was going to retain all the constituency currently under the opposition namely Gaborone North, Goodhope/Mabule, Tlokweng, Bonnington North, and Selibe Phikwe West, among others.

He explained that the Gaborone North Constituency would be contested by himself, Bonnington South by Mrs Annah Motlhagodi, Gaborone Central by Mr Tumisang Hill while Tlokweng will be contested for by Mr Elijah Katse. The party had not yet decided on who will represent Selebi Phikwe West.

It was also announced at the press briefing that a consensus was met between the current Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Eric Molale to stand unopposed at Mabule/Goodhope constituency in the coming 2019 general elections.

At first, Mr Molale was pinned against businessman, Fankie Motsaathebe, who will now become his campaign manager for the coming general election.

Mr Motsaathebe said the decision was reached in the best interest of the party to avoid conflicts and called on other fellow democrats to rally behind Mr Molale in order to retain the constituency, which was under the Umbrella For Democratic Change.

The press was also shown the new University of Botswana Botswana Democratic Party GS 26, which he (Balopi) said was now in the majority.

Source : BOPA

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