Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), has this week not taken kindly to reports that the Commission has, in concert with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP, rigged the just ended 2019 General election.
The main opposition party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), particularly the affiliate Botswana National Front (BNF), has been decrying and suspecting foul play in the election results on the part of both the BDP and the IEC. The UDC has been insisting that the BDP is sleeping with the IEC, hence raising eyebrows and suspicion that they swayed election results in favour of the ruling BDP.
The misgivings have not been held by the fact that IEC, although presumably independent, is strategically placed under the auspices of the Office of the President (OP). According to the IEC official information, BDP won with a popular vote of more than 52%, garnering 66% of Member of Parliaments as per the election system of First Past the Post (FPTP).
In most parts of the South, the ruling party won with the widest margins (almost double in many areas), something which has never been experienced in the country in recent intervals. The results have led to talks of a looming court case that will be brought forth by the UDC against the IEC protesting the election outcome as “doubtful.” Speaking to Weekend Post this week, IEC Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO) Osupile Maroba, dismissed the rigging allegations citing that they are impossible and laughable.
“I confirm that elections went very well. The elections, like those that came before, have never been rigged and are not rigged, and therefore are very credible as the law was followed to the letter,” he insisted to this publication. He maintained that the elections were very credible and in accordance with provisions of the Electoral law.
According to Maroba, people never complained from the beginning of the electoral cycle/process as they gave the polling agents the voters roll, to check whether names are written correctly on the roll, whether the numbers tally, to check any voter trafficking suspicion and so forth and they were satisfied with the voters roll hence no complaints were registered. “Everything went in terms of the Electoral Act. It was applied to the core, we are a non-partisan institution. We only implement law as is, simple.” the IEC official maintained.
In terms of the looming court case, Maroba said the IEC remains ready to defend the case and that the party, UDC in particular, are within their rights to do so as law allows them to request for remedy at court on the elections. â€¨“They have the right to do so. The High Court will mediate us,” he insisted. He therefore dismissed the much talked about Gantsi North rigging case, in which the former area legislator has approach court to protest the results saying they were rigged as there are fears some boxes were not counted.
“I don’t know how the truck from Gantsi with ballot boxes is special or different from the rest of others. I don’t know how this one is peculiar to the other. Procedure was dully followed and nothing is out of line. Every Returning Officer delivers it to the High Court. And this was the case,” he highlighted. In terms of the law, the IEC mouthpiece cited sections 71, 72 and 73 of the Electoral Act which explains the process of election, and that after counting at elections, ballot boxes are sealed and delivered to the High Court.
“Returning officer can’t count votes without all the boxes being delivered. They know all the wards and boxes and only counts the ballots in front of the polling agents. All the time there are party representatives at polling stations and counting centre,” he explained.He added that the ballot boxes then are sealed in front of the party agents and they don’t let their eyes off the counting process while stressing that the government car also should be followed from polling stations to the counting centres if parties wish to and that polling agents can ride in or follow the car, as it is allowed by law to allay fears of any suspicion of rigging.
Maroba pointed out that after every elections, the IEC always has allegations of election rigging but they haven’t escalated to this level: “why I don’t know.” It’s a normal issue after the elections, he said adding that the “BDP has also accused us of rigging in the past.” Maroba denied that they are sleeping with BDP, as some want to allege and that it is a perception which does not hold water.
He observed that the parties only challenge the election results when they feel disadvantaged or having lost like the UDC, in this case. “BDP clearly has a landslide victory because we are dealing with different people with different minds and voters can promise to elect candidates or parties but end up voting the others, which is why probably we are in this state,” he concluded.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.