Yes the, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won but the numbers are appalling! The low voter turnout in the Moshupa/Manyana constituency by-election should be a wakeup call on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), experts say.
The fact that President Mokgweetsi Masisi is the immediate former Member of Parliament for the constituency of Moshupa/Manyana and that the BDP candidate, Karabo Gare is his supposed blue eyed boy, the general expectation was that multitudes will throng the polling stations. Instead the bye-election went on to record one of the lowest voter apathy rates ever recorded in the country. This comes on the backdrop of IEC planned voter registration that starts September 3rd to November 11th this year. The IEC is targeting 1.5 million eligible voters to register.
According to IEC official documents turned out by WeekendPost, the constituency has so far registered the lowest voter turnout in successive bye-elections since 2014 General Elections. Out of a whooping 14 849 constituents who registered to vote in the 2014 General Elections in the area, only a handful of 5 662 cast their vote at last weekend’s bye-election.
While it is common cause that a lesser number of electorates are always recorded in bye-elections, the number was unexpectedly lower in Moshupa/Manyana, particularly because it is the president’s former constituency and he had made a call for constituents to come in numbers to vote in his chosen successor.
Only 38.1% of eligible electorates cast their votes in last weekend’s bye-election. The bye-election was necessitated by the elevation of the area legislator, Masisi to the highest office in the land. While the low turnout in numbers was apparent in the election, the results indicate that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) continues to dominate, having garnered 4 039 votes against a paltry 1 530 of the opposition conglomerate, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The UDC numbers are inclusive of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which contended and, Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). The results suggest that voter apathy continues to be a thorn in the flesh with Moshupa/Manyana standing at a worst recorded level for the country since 2014 despite the sitting president being the area ex immediate MP. Some observers therefore believe it may be attributed as a vote of no confidence on the president as he campaigned vigorously, together with his party, and implored all the residents to vote in large numbers.
While only 5 662 voted in the by election at the said Masisi backyard, the previous 2014 General Elections indicate that 12 619 voted. Masisi, in the elections beat Ngaka Monageng who was representing UDC by 6 831 to 3 231 while BCP’s Benny Stegling managed 2557 votes. Prior, in the 2009 General Elections, also only 9 244 electorates cast their vote with the ruling BDP being voted by 6 374, BCP 1 519 and 1 219 of the BNF. Two independent candidates got 60 and 72 respectively.
When zooming into the intra party affairs, especially the BDP which has won Moshupa/Manyana constituency since independence; in the 2007 party primary elections, Masisi defeated Bobby Tlhabiwe by 2 141 votes to 923 out of the 3 064 party faithful who took part in the election. Following Masisi, Gare also won the primaries earlier this year by 2 841 against Lentswe Mosanako’s 767, Stephen Kganela’s 514, John Boikhutso Disele’s 182 and Benjamin Mogodi’s 50. A total of 4 354 democrats cast their votes.
There are seven wards in the constituency being; Lotlhakane West, Manyana/Mogonye, Moshupa-East, Moshupa-South, Moshupa-North, Pitseng and Ralekgetho. Meanwhile, IEC documents also indicate that Moshupa/Manyana which registered the lowest voter turnout at the bye-elections since 2014 is followed by Mochudi East at 38.57%. In the area, 20 460 registered but only 7 892 did actually vote.
UDC’s Moagi Molebatsi emerged triumphant at the constituency by election by 4 402 while Mpho Moruakgomo of BDP got 3 284 and 130 for independent candidate Japhta Radibe. The constituency fell vacant following the murder of Isaac Davids early this year. The third lowest voter apathy in the by elections was in Tlokweng with 49.39%. A total of 6 875 voted out of the 13 919 registered electorates. The area has seen Masego Segokgo of the UDC garner 4 634 against BDP’s Elijah Katse with 2 157 while Shirley Segokgo trailed behind with 57.
Masego succeeded Same Bathobakae who died in 2016. The last area which recorded a better voter turnout is Goodhope-Mabule standing at 69.04% compared to 85.86% for the 2014 General Elections. In Goodhope-Mabule, out of the 15 991 that registered to vote in 2014, 11 040 cast their vote with Lotlaamoreng Montshiwa winning the area. He attained 6 152 as opposed to Eric Molale’s 4 372 and 385 by Comfort Maruping of the BCP after the area was ditched by James Mathokgwane for a lucrative post at Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU).
When speaking to WeekendPost this week, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Spokesperson, Osupile Maroba expressed his unease with regard to voter apathy in the country. “Voter apathy remains a serious concern to us, we are not happy at all especially in the recent by election lowest record at Moshupa/Manyana,” Maroba pointed out. Maroba said all, as custodians of democracy should be equally discontented as democracy is mostly defined by participation and the more the participation the merrier.
“We, as IEC also often ask ourselves why people are not voting. Is it the IEC? Is it political parties? Or just that the electorates are not interested?” he asked rhetorically. Apart from low turnout in Moshupa/Manyana, and while conceding that it’s the nature of by elections, he said other areas are really worrisome like the recent Mochudi-East bye-election where UDC emerged triumphant.
The IEC mouth piece on the other hand justified that voter apathy sometimes may be as a result of transfers where other workers are moved to other places, and that young people are naturally mobile and/or they move willy-nilly. However he told this publication that since they are concerned by voter apathy, they even plan on carrying out a new study for voter apathy to see if there are new challenges and new factors to address the complicated issue.
According to Maroba, currently there are so many aspects of voter apathy. He stated that they have social media platforms to reach out to everyone especially the youth, including through radio and TV programmes as well as adverts. On his part, UDC Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa told this publication briefly that, naturally bye-elections attract low number of electorates but in providing an adequate answer they await a full report from the elections team in Moshupa/Manyana and therefore will not comment further.
On the other hand, BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said they are equally worried about the low turnout in Moshupa/Manyana bye-election. He said that there are many dimensions to the issue including the short span of time, other electorates could not locate their registration cards, and that some other electorates’ omang cards were expired. He added that more voter education should be instilled.
Meanwhile, a Political Analyst and lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) Leonard Sesa said in light of what transpired at Moshupa/Manyana, the IEC must go back to the drawing board and look at the recommendations after 2014 with regard to curbing voter apathy and apply them. He partly attributed the low turn out to the winter season saying that electorates might have felt lazy to join long queues and cast their votes.
The Political Analyst added that IEC should have the power to come up with a writ of elections as opposed to a writ by the president, but within a stipulated bye-election period. He said parties should also look at the calibre of aspiring candidates and vet them thoroughly before being presented to the electorates. Another professor of Political Science at University of Botswana, Zibani Maundeni in his research paper “Voter education and some electoral issues in Botswana: 2004 and 2014 compared” says voter apathy is entrenched in our elections.
He stated in the paper that “in 2004, the nation united behind the IEC in tackling voter apathy and the results were encouraging. In contrast, voter education has hugely slowed down, nobody seems to be leading, and voter apathy is mostly likely to entrench itself again in the coming elections. Joint efforts are hardly visible, there is no leading institution spearheading voter education, and civil society movement is almost dead. There is neither a woman’s manifesto nor youth’s manifesto, and political development is hardly visible.”
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.