… As BDP Youth League elections take centre stage
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party youth elections slated for next month are characterised by intrigue and gerrymandering as party elders push to have their candidate elected youth chairman, sources have revealed.
This is said to be part of a grand plan by Mpho Balopi, the BDP secretary general and some party elders eyeing some central committee positions, to canvass support from the youth leadership in preparation for the party’s elective congress in July.
Balopi is said to be rooting for the National Youth Executive Committee chairman, Andy Boatile – who is seeking re-election in a contest that will see him face three other contenders in Thabo Autwetse, Thato Baruti and another BDP youth at the BDP youth congress slated for February in Masunga.
Sources close to the saga say Balopi has been busy ensuring that his preferred candidate has a smooth sail to victory. Already he is said to have even gone to an extent of making efforts to get Baruti, a young businessman who is said to carry some weight in the party youth, out of the way. Those close to the race say Balopi even wrote a letter suspending Baruti from the NYEC over trumped up charges; breaking established party rules in a bid to protect Boatile. The decision is said to have come as a response to some NYEC resolutions in May last year, which among others, called for a motion of No Confidence and the removal of Boatile from office for unilaterally postponing the congress without informing the NYEC members. The elections were supposed to have been held last year.
In the letter, a copy of which The Patriot on Sunday is in possession of, Balopi says Baruti, who has been serving as the NYEC’s treasurer was being suspended from his position pending disciplinary action.
“Amongst the acts of gross misconduct which led to the decision for your suspension pending disciplinary action include, (a) instigating, causing and attempting to unlawfully remove from office, the Chairman (Boatile), (b) conducting unauthorised interviews in the media castigating other members of the NYEC and the leadership which are not in the interests of the NYEC and the leadership which are not in the interests of the NYEC and the BDP particularly in an election year; (c) creating an unfair misconception in the minds of the public that the NYEC and by extension the BDP have poor leadership; (d) instigating and causing the NYEC to undermine the Central Committee of the BDP’s decision to postpone the youth elective congress and (e) generally engaging in an unbecoming conduct,” reads the letter.
A few other members who attended the meeting that resolved to remove Boatile have also received suspension letters while others did not, a source said.
“Upon realising that Boatile was going to lose, Balopi took a decision with Andy (Boatile) without our knowledge to cancel the NYEC elections claiming that the losers would be bitter and there will be infighting which might affect party inner peace and unity during the General Elections which could cost the party,” said the source.
In their resolution to remove Boatile, the youth leaders at the meeting argued that the congress be held on the President Holidays of July 2014 “as preparations for the congress were at an advanced stage. Accommodation has been arranged, youth committees and delegates have been elected and some branches had already arranged transport to the congress…We therefore believe the reasons given are not sufficient to warrant postponement,” reads the statement from the NYEC meeting.
Balopi has, however, dismissed as untrue, accusations that he is engineering Boatile’s bid to retain the youth chairmanship. The secretary general said he is way past the 35 years youth age limit and has no constituency nor any interest to influence the way the BDP youth should vote their leadership.
He called for unity in the party, saying the reason BDP performed badly at the polls could be among others infighting.
“You will realise that there are cases where BDP councillors won and their MP lost. This shows that there is need for unity. We need to rebuild the party. Every BDP member, including the youth, should focus on team work. So how can I advocate for unity and on the other hand want to divide the youth?” he said.