With growing internal bickering, which threatens to destabilise the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ahead of the 2019 general elections, Secretary General Mpho Balopi denied knowledge of a new faction in the ruling party calling itself New Jerusalem.
In an attempt deflect the question on the factions within BDP, Balopi said, as a Christian man he knows Jerusalem to be a peaceful and holy place, and therefore "people who call themselves Jerusalem should either disband or find another name because they don't stand for peace and harmony in the BDP. Sodom & Gomorrah would be apt," he lashed out.
Sodom and Gomorrah have been used historically and today as metaphors for vice and homosexuality. According to Wikipedia, in Abrahamic religions, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall with a proverbial manifestation of divine retribution. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament. According to the Torah, the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with the cities of Admah, Zeboim, and Bela. Divine judgment by God was passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah and two neighboring cities, which were completely consumed by fire and brimstone.
On Thursday afternoon Balopi was at pains trying to explain and justify the decison by the BDP central committee to postpone to 2020, the youth congress that was due in 2019 where a new leadership was to be elected. He claimed that the current Youth Wing leadership had proposed the postponement, which was then accepted by the Central Committee after considering compelling reasons advanced by the youth. "Next year (2019) we will have a very busy schedule for the party preparing for the general elections. Therefore after careful consideration we agreed that we are going to need more time to focus on the general elections alone," said Balopi.
Quizzed on the decision to extend the Simon Mavange led committee over a period that violates the BDP constitution, which stipulates that every two years there should be youth congress where a new committee will be elected, Balopi said it is normal for the congress to be postponed. He denied that the postponement is due to instability or growing factionalism that threatens to spill over the the youth and render the BDP ungovernable ahead of 2019 polls.
Bulela Ditswe appeals
Balopi denied interference by the Central Committee led by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the outcomes of Bulela Ditswe appeals lodged by losers in the recent party primary elections. He said the appeals were handled by the Electoral Board together with the Appeals Committee appointed by Masisi with powers vested on him by the party’s constitution.
Balopi also denied that the Central Committee has been delaying the release of the outcomes of the appeals saying the correct procedure had to be followed in a comprehensive manner by the relevant structures which are independent and free from the Central Committee. He said the party received 134 appeals lodged by councilors and MPs candidates in the primary elections. He noted that 39 out of 110 which constitutes (36.6 %) of the Councilors appeals succeeded while only 2 out 24 (8.3 %) of the MP appeals were also succesful. The two constituencies which will have election re –runs in the MP category are Bobonong and Kgalagadi North where some irregulaties were identified following investigations by both the Electoral Board and Appeals Committees as indicated in the report handed to the central committee this week.
The re-runs in Bobonong and Kgalagadi North constituencies will give a life line and glimpse of hope to cabinet ministers Shaw Kgathi who is the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security and Itumeleng Moipisi who is currently the Assistant Minister of Water and Sanitation Services. Kgathi lost the elections against newcomer Francisco Kgoboko who garnered 5, 595 votes against Kgathi’s 1, 785 while Moipisi lost to the high rising Talitha Monnakgotla. Moipisi only managed 1, 696 votes against Monnakgotla’s 2, 139. "We experienced a lot of challenges through appeals in the primary elections. We will only have council and parliamentary primary election re-runs in constituencies and wards where appeals were succesful. The committees tasked with handling the appeals have done well, hence the go-ahead in those constituencies for election re-runs. The other appeals which were not successful were dismissed and our focus has now shifted to delivering credible and fair elections on the ordered re-runs," said Balopi.
Balopi said that the suspended Tshephang Mabaila has written to the party appealing against a recent decision to suspend him. He said Mabaila is still on suspension and will know his fate next week when the relevant structures will release the verdict on the issue.
“I can confirm that Mabaila has put in an appeal over his recent suspension from the party. As of now let’s wait for the final outcome and see how things will go," said Balopi.