Losers in the Botswana National Front ( BNF) primary elections in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency, led by the Parliamentary aspirant and former Jwaneng Mayor Tsietsi Oodira Kwenje, have resigned enmasse with immediate effect, decrying lack of attention to their grievances.
The seven (7) members made the announcement this week in a press briefing that they are resigning from the party because of the party’ s inability to address adequately the appeals they lodged following the controversial re-run of primary elections held in August and September. Six members who contested for council seats with Kwenje against the incumbent MP Shawn Ntlhaile, who has been fingered by the defectors as the main root cause of the party’s inability in the Jwaneng- Mabutsane Constituency, took the decision to resign from BNF and are looking to join a new party.
Kwenje told the media that the primary elections were not fair and credible due to favoritism given to Ntlhaile and his team of councilors who stole the votes and thanks to the support they got from members of the regional committee who they say did house to house campaigns for Team Ntlhaile. “The recent primary elections of the BNF in the Jwaneng- Mabutsane constituency came out as one of the worst elections. The elections were not fair nor credible at all. We voiced out our concerns about the way elections were conducted and still no answer from the party structures. It seems that nobody cares to listen to us as per the party constitution with regards to appeals,” an emotionally charged Kwenje revealed.
He further said he has not been treated well together with his fellow councilors by the MP and the party’s constituency committee which has suspended him before from the party together with his ally Kruger Chepete without being called for a disciplinary hearing or interpretation of the constitution well after the duo won the mayor and deputy mayor positions respectively in 2014. Kwenje and his fellow defectors said the demise of BNF in the constituency should be blamed on Ntlhaile who since representing the party started the tension and divisions as compared to the time of Mephato Reatile, before the then MP defected to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2012.
For his part the then campaigner manager for Kwenje in the primary elections, Odirile Pheresi hinted that the BNF has disappointed after the primary elections in the constituency. He rubbished claims that they are power hungry as per some of the victorious candidates note and he said their decision is influenced by loss of track by the BNF and its leadership in almost all party structures.
Defectors have pinpointed out that there was numerous irregular process that occurred before, during and even after the elections. The major irregularity that stuck the elections was the voters roll saga in which some people voted more than twice in different wards.
Some of the election contenders noted that their names were not even on the voters roll and as such they were denied to vote for themselves and some of the voters rolls went missing even up to now their whereabouts is unknown.
Another complaint that the defiant members decried is lack of proper address of their concerns by the party structures and Pherisi stated that they have lodged their complaints in a proper way as the party constitution lays and some of the appeals were dismissed as the party ‘National Appeals Committee is shunning their appeals. And Kwenje reckoned “ As per the party ‘constitution we lodged our appeals in seven ( 7) days and we were supposed to be responded in 14 days and this is not the case now as we are approaching two months with our appeals not given ear to and then what is the BNF turned into now?’’.
The former Jwaneng Major also said the BNF was showing that it has lost true itself in this year primary elections. He revealed that the parliament results were delayed to be released and in some results were not counted in the polling stations as it the procedure. He revealed that the results were announced to them in Gaborone at the party’headquaters and the candidates were given the results in envelopes something which he says raises lot of concern about the future of the BNF.
Quizzed on what will be their next political, the defectors were cagey to reveal their next political destination but only said they will reveal their next party once they have taken a proper decision of where they are going. Kwenje also concluded by saying that more candidates and activists who are now fed up with the party’ current administration will continue to resign from the party in the constituency and look for new political homes.