3 August 2018

Botswana: Heads to Roll

New BDP rules unsettle candidates

Criminal records, court cases haunt candidates

We want credible candidates - Balopi

A number of ministers to lose primaries

The Botswana Democratic Party's (BDP) move to require their parliamentary and council candidates to have an affidavit signed by the police and clearing them of not having criminal records is said to have unsettled some candidates who are even intending to pull out.

A worried candidate said as part of the affidavit they are requested to submit finger prints to the police, which they suspect will be used to check if they have any criminal records. "We don't know what they are using the finger prints for but my knowledge tells me that it is to check criminal records and ultimately vet out some," said a worried BDP member who is planning to contest Bulela Ditswe.

One of the reasons for seeking an affidavit is said to have been motivated by the past events where some of candidates spent a lot of time in the courts of law fighting legal battles instead of campaigning after winning primary elections. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said they want credible candidates for the 2019 elections. "IEC also has a provision to check if people have some criminal records or pending criminal cases and we don't want to find ourselves in an embarrassing situation when our candidate is vetted out by the IEC," he said.

Balopi said they also want affidavits from their candidates to also check whether the information they provided while registering as candidates at regions is correct. "As a ruling party we want those who will occupy positions of national leadership within the party to be very credible and this proves that indeed we want to have a very clean government," he said.

Although most of the candidates have been vetted in by the regions there is suspicion by some candidates that the party might pull the rug from under their feet and vet them out due to their criminal records. Some said that they read malice in the whole exercise, saying it is another way of vetting out some people who are known to be sympathisers of former President Ian Khama.

For the past two elections some BDP councilors and MPs were embroiled in cases of stock theft, with some of the cases having occurred before they were elected, something which tarnished the party name. "Most of the accused were in constituencies which the party is popular and ended with the party losing some of the wards," said the source.

A number of council and parliamentary candidates are currently embroiled in suspected cases of criminality while others' trials are underway. Besides these cases, some of the long serving ministers are likely to lose out in the primaries as their opponents appear to have long entrenched themselves in the constituencies. Ministers spend most of their time out of their constituencies due to their demanding ministerial work.

Tough contests are underway in Bobirwa, Lobatse, Kanye North, Selebi-Phikwe East, Serowe North West, Ngami, Okavango and Nata/Gweta where likely new representatives will be come out top.

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