ONCE, TWICE…… FOUR TIMES A LOSER!
Disgruntled Shima Monageng, who lost in the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Molopolole South primary elections (Bulela Ditswe) held a fortnight ago, has appealed against the result, citing irregularities as the main grounds for his appeal.
Monageng, a four time loser in Bulela Ditswe, is convinced he would have done better than the 1, 844 votes he garnered against his opponent, Kabo Morwaeng’s 2, 693, had the playing field been level.
In the aftermath of his disputed defeat, Monageng who is yet to have his appeal heard, spoke to FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA about the election and life in the BDP.
Q. You lost Bulela Ditswe again, how does it feel?
I have lost, but I am protesting the results, as you already know.
My opponent was a player and a referee at the same time! He chaired the Political Education Committee, which was responsible for issuing and distributing membership cards, as well as preparing the voters roll, amongst other things.
Q. Is that so? Allegedly it was Daniel Kwelagobe’s (former Molepolole South legislator) support that was your main undoing?
There are people that have spoken to me directly, democrats, telling me it was a mistake to accept DK’s help in my campaign because he has been fighting leadership.
But I would have been surprised if during the campaign DK did not offer his support and advice.
He made it very clear throughout my campaign that because I stayed loyal to the party, even after unsuccessfully challenging him three times, I had his support.
He told people that he wanted me to be the successful candidate. It appears this rubbed some up the wrong way – they forget that in politics there are no permanent enemies, nor permanent friends.
DK has never been my enemy. I was just standing against him in the belief that it was time for an able, younger person to take over in Molepolole.
Even when I started the challenge, we sat down and I told him I was not doing it out of disrespect but rather to learn the way of politics and to prepare to take over the constituency when the time arrived. This way there wouldn’t be a vacuum when he decided to retire.
Yes, when we went to Tonota (BDP congress) I supported Masisi (for party Chairman) against DK’s will.
And when we went to Tonota, DK was already supporting me, we were together but we differed when it came to Masisi and Nonofo (Molefhi).
Another thing, I did not support Mma Seretse for chairmanship in Mmadinare because I believe leadership should be respected.
I was part of ‘A team’ for a long time and the faction leaders taught us to respect the will and decisions of leadership, especially of HE (His Excellency the President).
When we went to Kanye, HE said he supported Mma Seretse but when we went to Mmadinare he switched to Masisi – so I supported Masisi 100 percent!
Q. Let’s talk more about the just ended Bulela Ditswe. What lessons have you learnt from your experience?
I personally think Domkrag (BDP) needs to take many things seriously. Bulela Ditswe has its challenges.
Recommendations suggested before should be implemented to the fullest. It has been recommended that Bulela Ditswe be revised, but leadership have stalled in implementing this.
Leadership should have taken into consideration issues of compromise.
It is only talk, but the leadership are not taking compromise seriously enough in my view.
For instance, in my case, I have been complaining about our Molepolole branch that it has taken sides and has been captured by Morwaeng.
Instead I was told to sit with Morwaeng and see how we can compromise.
It should have been the elders of the BDP, those who understand operations of the party, to discuss compromise with candidates and aspiring candidates and then come up with a recommendation.
Considering today’s democracy, do you think compromise is regressive?
I understand that BDP wants nothing but democracy, but with the way we do things we will have serious consequences in future.
For instance, whoever feels things did not go well, depending on the results of the hearing, they may rebel.
There are people who will really be bruised.
Sometimes is not really the leader or aspiring candidate who is bruised, it is the followers who will be hurt because they believe in you and it is you they want to be their leader.
If they feel you lost fairly they accept it, but if it is unfair, they tend to feel that they have no alternative.
In 2003, I felt that I was cheated, I appealed but my appeal was thrown away and my followers, against my will, against my advice, did protest voting in 2014.
They have now told me that in 2014 they voted for the UDC (Umbrella for Democratic Change) and it was quite a number of them.
My fear is right now I am inundated with a number of calls and groups of people visiting me and saying ‘appeal’ and that’s why I have appealed.
They are saying if you are not heard, we will see what to do and I am trying to tell them, ‘no, let’s be calm’.
Q. How many people are you talking about?
Already 300 people have put down their names and signed in protest against the results.
I have not put them up to this! I only became aware when they brought the petition to me to attach to my letter of appeal.
These people are saying they were denied the opportunity to vote.
By the way, this nearly turned into an ugly situation – in some polling stations people refused to disperse after the polling station closed at 20:00 hrs.
They were demanding their membership cards, which they say were being hidden.
The police had to be called around 21:30 to disperse them and they went back to their homes with wounded hearts.
Q. Would you care to discuss your appeal in greater detail?
I am declining to grant you an interview (laughs). But I want to mention a few points – let’s be calm and wait for the results of the appeal.
The BDP should take these appeals very seriously and be considerate to some of us who have been loyal to the party.
I have contested four times and throughout I never dumped the party for any other alternative podium – I stayed loyal to the party!
My other concern with the BDP is that people who have been loyal are seemingly being sidelined in most aspects but those who jump from one party to the other are held in high esteem.
It’s like the ‘Morwa wa Sesinyi’ issue: you have been away and now that you are back we have to slaughter a fat goat for you to make you happy!
They forget we fought hard for the leadership to make sure they are where they are today.
They seem not to recognise us, like myself, without labelling us ‘cry babies’.
I am shocked that people like us, who have been actively contesting for party positions, putting on our resources – imagine from both Mmadinare and Tonota I never got involved in subcommittees – but I didn’t become a ‘cry baby’, I didn’t rebel.
It surprised me that I wasn’t given a chance to serve the party at those levels to learn and gain mileage.
The people I am with in Molepolole, most of them were given these positions. Sometimes it is because we have people who go to leadership and gossip and mislead it.
Q. A lot seems to be going on within the BDP!
One other thing is that opposition party is united and that is a big threat to the BDP.
Because when you take BCP (Botswana Congress Party) and unite it with UDC, it is a force to reckon with! The BDP cannot afford to lose people, especially now.
Q. What is your suggestion then?
The continuous recruitment drive from opposition should be done with care. Sometimes we recruit people whose loyalty to the BDP is questionable as opposed to the loyalty of diehard democrats.
What needs to be done is to recruit and retain.
In my view it is best to concentrate on retention because sometimes you spread your net but you don’t know what you are going to catch; rather take care of the fish you have already caught!
In future BDP should retain its loyal members by listening to them, by appreciating them. Appreciation is lacking.
Q. I am told the opposition had voted in the BDP primaries; ‘ntshedisa molatswana’ strategy, how much do you know about this?
Yes we all know about it. We hear that opposition has voted – and not only in Molepolole.
It has voted for the weakest candidates so they can deal with them at the general elections.
UDC is up in arms against stronger candidates and has worked in cahoots with these weaker candidates to ensure they are voted in.
Some candidates, I am told, have used their churches and other organisations outside their constituencies to vote for them.
In Molepolole for instance, we rejected a number of names, but they still appeared on the voter’s roll.
There are actually pertinent issues, which I have requested be addressed, that can help me prove some membership cards were issued from head office but never reached the owners.
Q. In case you are unsuccessful with your appeal, do you have a plan B?
I will cross that bridge when I reach it. Right now my prayer is to be given a fair hearing and judgment.