For some months now the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has amplified its campaign against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) and the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

The UDC maintains steadfastly that this trio rigged the last elections and is colluding to rig the next general election.

Various people from the opposition have warned that if there is any rigging in the next election or any attempt to do so there will be chaos and strife in Botswana.

In an effort to counter any possibility of vote rigging in the next elections, the UDC set up a unit called Madibelatlhopo under the office of the UDC president.

According to spokesperson of the unit, Mike Keakopa, the Madibelatlhopo is a project whereby voters are taught the constitution of Botswana and the Electoral Act.

The UDC believes that before and during elections, the IEC works hand in hand with the DIS and BDP to rig elections by not following the legal framework that set up the institution.

They also believe that arming people with the necessary information they can use to monitor IEC officials before and during elections is critical.

This past weekend, the UDC held nationwide Madibelatlhopo training sessions. Speaking to members of opposition parties in the Gaborone Madibelatlhopo training session, which took place at Bophirima primary, Keakopa noted that all they want is for things to be done in an orderly manner.

He said that the Secretary of the IEC, Jeff Siamisang is slow to listen to their pleas, as all they want is to be heard and their requests for fairness to be acceded to. Keakopa said that the IEC called a meeting with all political parties but the IEC took 90 percent of the time talking.

Keakopa said that the last election cycle was tainted with irregularities. He cited instances where BDP members would allegedly go home with the voters’ roll and amend it from there.

He said that the UDC President has written to the Chairman of the IEC but he is yet to acknowledge receiving the letter.

Keakopa said that the IEC is not following its own procedures when recruiting people. He alleged that the District Commissioners all over the country are also implicated in the rigging.

He said that the best way to stop the cheating is through constant monitoring of the system. Keakopa said that when they try get their issues through, they are told that these are issues of national security threat. He added that elections are matters that should not be treated as classified but they should be open to everyone.

He says Batswana cannot sit and watch when a lot of malpractice is taking place within the IEC. He is unfazed by the fact that the President of Botswana has criticised the Madibelatlhopo group.

Keakopa said that they know that President Masisi is shocked by the fact that a group of Batswana who are armed with knowledge will make him lose the upcoming elections.

One of the things that does not sit well with Madibelatlhopo group is the IEC allegedly employing government workers but these public servants do not undergo interviews as per the norm.

Keakopa said that the returning officer in the Palapye Maphula Ward by-election was a known BDP activist. Keakopa said that the integrity of the IEC is on the line as they do not see how the institution is fair and credible.

He revealed that the Madibelatlhopo project began immediately after the 2019 general election after the UDC realised that the elections were rigged but the court had dismissed their petitions.

That was when the leadership of the UDC decided to develop a training manual through which members of the opposition could be trained to defend their vote.

Madibelatlhopo training began before any by-election was held and the UDC has been dispensing this information in each constituency in the country since 2021. These trainings will go on until the next elections.

According to Keakopa, teaching people about the Electoral Act and the constitution has been a tried and tested method of ensuring that elections are free. He says this is the reason why the BDP lost most of the by-elections that have been taking place.

The BDP is also being blamed for soiling the name of Madibelatlhopo by suggesting they are a vigilante group which seeks to wreak havoc in the nation, which accusations, he said are blatant lies that motivate them to work even harder to liberate Botswana.

Speaking to Botswana Guardian in response to the allegations made against the BDP, the party's spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said that Batswana should go vote in large numbers and stay away from causing any chaos like Boko has been insinuating for months.

Kentse explained that Batswana have only one nation and it does not make any sense for them to tear down the country they have worked so hard to build.

“We cannot allow situations where people pre-empt that if they lose elections they will cause chaos,” Kentse said, adding that Botswana has been a beacon of peace around the world and it should continue to be known that way. He said that members of the public should not fear anyone and go out in large numbers to vote.

Kentse expressed disappointment in the way Advocate Boko is handling himself given the fact that as a lawyer he should act better.

He said allegations of vote rigging are blatant lies which are made to incite violence in the nation. What shocks Kentse the most is that when the UDC wins a by-election, there is no vote rigging but every time they lose it becomes a problem.

Kentse said that Batswana at large should criticise what the UDC is doing and he challenges Boko to rally the nation behind him if at all they buy into the UDC vision just as the African National Congress (ANC) beat the system by going to the polls.

Kentse noted that the Madibelatlhopo faction is a group of unruly Botswana National Front (BNF) members who are used as pawns in Boko’s hands to fight anyone who goes against their leader.