With less than six weeks to the much awaited general elections slated for October 23, politicians are trying every trick in the book to canvas votes, accusations and counter accusations are flying thick and fast. In the latest developments in Tonota constituency, former deputy speaker of the national assembly, Pono Moathodi has accused his fierce opponent, Thapelo Olopeng of voter trafficking.
Moathodi and Olopeng’s battle dates back as 2013 when the former defeated Moathodi during the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections popularly known as Bulela Ditswe. After his defeat, Moathodi defected to the main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in an endeavour to face his nemesis once again. Moathodi got a second bite to the cherry to face Olopeng.The UDC had to remove Maokaneng Bontshetse and replaced him with Moathodi. Bontshetse then launched a court case challenging his removal but he lost with costs. During the 2014 general elections, Olopeng emerged victorious again, he garnered 7 013 votes followed by Moathodi with 5 179, Themba Joina who was representing Botswana Congress Party amassed 475 votes and Independent candidate Michael Mzwinila got a paltry 128 votes. Even though he accepted defeat; Moathodi attributed his loss to voter trafficking. He said Olopeng trafficked people from the capital city, Gaborone to register in Tonota. He claimed that Olopeng had hired buses to transport his supporters who were not residing in Tonota.
Speaking at his launch over the weekend in Tonota, Moathodi said his campaign team has discovered over 4 500 people on the voters roll who are not residing in Tonota constituency. “Only 14 000 people on the voters roll are inhabitants of Tonota. Recently during his launch, Olopeng is said to have told BDP members that he has registered more than 4 500 electorates outside Tonota and he will make a plan on how they will cast their vote,” Moathodi pointed out. He continued: “I am desperately pleading with you residents of Tonota to vote for me in large numbers, Olopeng has failed to develop our constituents.” He further claimed that Olopeng promised to build malls in the constituency when he was elected to parliament but he has failed to deliver his promise.
Moathodi promised that if voted again to parliament, he will address shortage of land in Tonota and surrounding villages. He added, “Once I am elected, I will intensively consult people who own fields around Tonota for them to sell their property to the sub land board so that those who are on the waiting list can be allocated plots. Currently there are over 100 000 people who are waiting to be allocated residential plots,” the veteran politician reasoned. According to Moathodi, there are about 80 industrial plots in Semotswane which are not serviced despite having been allocated 20 years ago. “If such plots can be serviced, they can create many job opportunities especially for the youth,” he further held. Efforts to solicit a comment from Olopeng were unsuccessful.