Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is poised to win the upcoming general elections despite a fading public support. If the current rift in the party fails to shake the foundations the party will capitalise on a disjointed opposition to retain power.
The party, according to African Monitor Report, published by United Kingdom based, Business Monitor International, will capitalise from stronger economic growth and fragmented opposition. The report which was released this week focusing on the political and socio-economic atmosphere of African Nations, says the BDP win will be due to a series of interlocking factors which will play out ahead of the elections.
“The appointment of Masisi in April 2018 seems likely to help restore public confidence in the BDP,” states the report. Former president Ian Khama suffered from weak approval ratings toward the end of his term, which it is believed was a key factor weighing on the popular perception of the BDP.
“The former president's tendency to avoid the national press and his seeming unwillingness to address the concerns of labour unions after major public sector strikes in 2011 and 2015 fuelled the image of a disengaged leader, especially among the country's large youth population.” By contrast, the report explains that Masisi has already distanced himself from his predecessor, acknowledging the crucial role media plays as a vehicle for politicians' messages.
Moreover, it is said Masisi’s nomination of the youngest minister in Botswana's history – 30-year old Bogolo Joy Kenewendo – at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, is enough evidence of his commitment to engaging the large youth population. In addition, broad-based economic recovery will bolster public sentiment in the coming months, helping to curb some of the longstanding public discontent over continued economic inequality. “We expect Botswana to maintain its investor-friendly policy trajectory after the upcoming presidential elections in October 2019,” it says.
REPORT DISMISSES UDC
African Monitor report believes that the UDC coalition, BDP's main political rival, will struggle to maintain cohesion. The opposition parties including the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana People's Party (BPP) – traditional members of the UDC – and the BCP, which recently joined managed to agree on presenting Duma Boko, the leader of the BNF party, as their presidential candidate for the 2019 elections.
However, it is by no means guaranteed that the parties will maintain a united front going into the 2019 polls, says the report. “At its first major congress in February last year, the different parties of the UDC were unable to agree on candidates to run in local constituencies, an issue which is yet to be resolved. This is largely owing to the BCP demanding to run as the coalition's candidate in a larger number of constituencies relative to the other members of the coalition and the nomination of Dumelang Saleshando, the BCP's leader, as Boko's presidential running mate,” a hypothesis looking at a number of African nations suggests.
The report strongly believes chances of the UDC winning power sits at dispiriting 15 percent. In the event of a victory for the main opposition coalition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), it is said centrist policy positions will prevail; “the majority of the coalition is seemingly in favour of the centrist policies proposed by leader Duma Boko”.
BCP COULD SCARE AWAY INVESTORS
Should the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) party obtain greater-than-expected influence in the UDC coalition in the run-up to the 2019 election and the opposition coalition wins, the newly elected government could implement reforms focused on protecting national industries and empowering national citizens, which would threaten foreign investment in the diamond sector, says the report paper. “The rapid implementation of such policies would threaten to undercut foreign investment in Botswana,” cautions the paper.
The economy's diamond industry already faces serious competition from China, the leading producer of synthetic diamonds, as well as India, which has positioned itself as the largest diamond beneficiation Centre through a large and low-cost workforce. “It is key for Botswana's long-term development to continue attracting investment in diamond polishing and cutting, which will be linked to the government engaging with labour unions to tie wages to productivity and cut down on red tape,” it recommends. This does not seem likely to happen if the BCP manages to secure a stronger role in the forthcoming government, as its reforms will be mainly focused on increasing wages and employment while reducing competition from foreign firms in the country.
LIFE AFTER ELECTIONS
Post the elections the report maintains that political stability will remain unscathed in Botswana, with a victory by Masisi likely to see the incumbent continue to push ahead with the Doing Business Reforms Roadmap introduced in 2015. “We believe President Masisi will also focus on the re-negotiation of a long-term agreement with De Beers – Botswana's biggest miner – for the use of the country's resources,” predicts the report. The current agreement is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations will be primarily centered on increasing the country's polishing and cutting operations in order to boost employment in high value added segments of the economy, generating employment opportunities and more sustainable economic growth.
Moreover, the governments will likely increase investment in infrastructure development projects under its 11th National Development Plan (NDP11) in order to address the shortcomings in Botswana's transportation network. The lack of extensive road and rail connections, particularly in the western regions, notably increases trade costs and inhibits investment in the landlocked country. The construction of numerous dry ports and ongoing investment in road and rail capabilities will reduce these costs.
While this will ensure the country continues to run moderate fiscal deficits, this is not seen as suggestive of any significant threat to the county's debt sustainability, given the relatively modest size of the country's overall debt burden. “We expect public debt to reach just 14.9% of GDP by the end of 2018 – a relatively low level by regional standards – which will leave plenty of scope for further borrowing, both domestically and from foreign creditors, to finance the execution of the NDP11 until its end in 2023,” it is said.
A business-friendly reform agenda will continue to support growth in manufacturing and retail trade in Botswana, which will ensure stronger long-term economic growth and keep the country as one of the most attractive investment destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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.