- Fears backlash, fails to punish Balopi loyalists
- Lifts suspensions, reinstates BDP councillors
- Councillors were ready to defect, eyed UDC
- ‘We have every right to speak to Balopi’- Cllrs
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) president, Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday failed to prosecute several councillors suspected to be Secretary General Mpho Balopi’s operatives, who have been serving 60 day suspensions.
After the BDP failed to send representatives to motivate their case against the councillors, their suspensions were lifted after their charges were withdrawn. The disciplinary committee urged the councillors, upon reinstatement to the party, not to ever criticize BDP in a manner that tarnishes its image or align themselves with factions. Two months ago, the councillors were suspended from the BDP for a period of 60 days, through a letter signed by Masisi after openly criticising the party in leaked audio recordings that went viral on social media platforms. The Patriot on Sunday understands that an independent committee chaired by party veteran and former MP for Kanye South, Leach Tlhomelang conducted the disciplinary hearings.
Contacted for a comment on Thursday, BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse confirmed that disciplinary hearings took place on Wednesday but could not divulge more details. “I can,for now, just say the hearings were conducted but will not get into details as we have not been briefed yet,” he said briefly.
It has since turned out that Kentse, who was the complainant in the matter on behalf of Masisi and the party, was economical with the truth. He was, infact, nowhere near Tsholetsa House when the disciplinary committee that also had MacDonald Peloetletse called him to state the case against the suspended councillors.
One source who preferred anonymity in fear of reprisals confirmed that all the councillors were summoned before Tlhomelang’s committee, which then dismissed their cases, acquited and discharged all of them due to non appearance of the complainant. Consequently, their suspensions were also quashed.
According to the source, it was impossible for the disciplinary committee to determine any wrong on their part. “We have been discharged and acquitted from the unfair charges laid against us. We were suspended for expressing displeasure over some cabinet ministers who fail to deliver on their mandates. We didn’t flout the BDP constitution anyhow but some of the people who dont like us in the party wanted to destroy our political careers. We are happy to be back,”the councillor said.
The four outspoken BDP councillors who were suspended through a letter signed by Masisi were Collen Mochotlhi, Seilatsatsi Kgokgong, Gontlafetse Mokgosi and Molemisi Motsewabathata. They were accused of having committed offences against the rules and general code of conduct of the party, thus bringing the BDP into disrepute. Interestingly, the suspensions emanated from leaked recordings which were obtained secretly in private BDP meetings. Those who leaked the secret recordings were never apprehended.
Another councillor said the decision to lift their suspensions was influenced by the looming council by-elections where the BDP feared a backlash. Further, the councillors had already been approached by opposition parties promising them support should they defect. “The party leadership got worried that we might join forces with the opposition to campaign against the BDP in the by elections. Also, it appeared that amongst others our suspension was premised on the fact that it has been alleged that we are BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi friends. Balopi is a BDP member and we are also BDP members. We have every right to speak to him. I know some people who pushed for our suspensions aren’t happy as they wanted us to be expelled,” said another councilor.
When suspended by Masisi, the councillors were blamed for behaving in a grossly disorderly and unruly manner that might put the party name into disrepute contrary to the BDP general code of conduct 5, behaving in a manner calculated to bring the party name into disrepute contrary to the general code of conduct of party number 11, contemptuous behavior towards party leadership and other members.
The suspensions followed after the councillors WatsApp audio leaks made rounds on the social media platforms when they openly expressed displeasure of some ministers and the level of the party’s bad state of affairs at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic third wave ravaged the country.
The BDP went on to identify the councillors who revolted against the party and were then suspended. At the time of imposing the suspensions Masisi said to the councillors “ As a member, you were obliged to abide by the constitution, rules and regulations of the party, and expected to promote its philosophy, policies and programmes as stated, particularly in article 14 subsection one and two thereof’’.
The party said in taking the decision, the President was exercising powers conferred upon him by article 34.1.6 and have determined that this is one of the exceptional circumstances in which he should suspend the councillors with immediate effect for the period of 60 days pending investigations.