President Lt Gen Ian Khama has condemned leaders who refuse to leave power by trying to manipulate an entire elections process which results in countries being plunged into conflicts.
Khama revealed this when officially opening the 18TH Annual General Conference of Electoral Conference Forum- Southern African Development Committee (ECF-SADC) this week, in Gaborone. Khama who is the Chairman of SADC said countries should be committed to the rule of law and democratic ideals.
“Elections should build a nation and not break it. Elections must promote the citizenry’s right to freely choose their leaders guided by Electoral Management Bodies (EMBSs) that serve them without favour, fear or prejudice,” he said and added that, “Elections have to be conducted in a manner that adheres to the legal framework and also have to, of necessity be accompanied by unquestionable integrity of those who manage and conduct them.”
Khama said the focus of the forum on challenges that might besiege SADC countries and threaten democracy is commendable and must be transformed into a culture of protecting electoral democracy to ensure peace and stability. Khama remarked that it is important for any successful election to be accompanied by serious political adherence for the sake of social, political and economic progress, peace and stability.
“It is common that election related conflicts in many parts of Africa including SADC are self-inflicted,” he said.
This he said, is more often than not “the result of attempts to manipulate constitutions to extend otherwise expired terms of office or alterations to electoral calendars and at worst influence elections outcomes and also not conforming to our own guidelines for conduct of elections.”
Botswana is known for their uncompromising position when it comes to condemning stated leaders who refuse to leave power or extend their tenure in office.
At his inauguration as chairperson of SADC last year, Khama spoke against the violence in Burundi which were instigated by the country’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, who was seeking a third term albeit unconstitutionally.
In 2008, Botswana boycotted South African Development Committee (SADC) summit, owing to the fact that ‘illegitimate’ Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe was invited to be part of the summit. Botswana had publicly announced that it did not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe following his victory in an election that was widely condemned as a sham.
Botswana would later change her stance and embraced Mugabe after a compromise deal allowed both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to form government of national unity.
Africa has a reputation of being a conflict riddled continent which has been labelled as the top reason for hindering progress economically and politically. Khama has however expressed optimism that the continent is moving away from government established through unconstitutional means to those guided by principles of democratic elections.
He said this transformation is faced by serious challenges which call for absolute commitment of political and electoral actors to the electoral process.
Khama has already assured the nation and the continent that he will leave office at the end of term. Khama who took over from Festus Mogae in 2008, will see his presidential tenure closing at the end of March in 2018, and will join a rarefied list of African presidents who left their seats gladly.
If Khama leaves office he will be in a pole position to win the coveted Ibrahim Prize, an award sponsored by Mo Ibrahim Foundation and given to former democratically elected African president who have served within constitutionally mandated term.
His predecessor, Mogae, won the award in 2008 after leaving office. The Mo Ibrahim Prize carries $5 million (P53 million) over 10 years period and $200,000 (2.1 million) per year for life thereafter.
Khama’s words also come in the wake of the controversial electoral amendment bill which was passed by parliament recently and awaiting president’s signature to come into operation. The bill brings among others; introduction of electronic voting, single vote registration period and increment of fees needed to run for parliamentary and council seats.
There are fears however, that introduction for single vote registration period will disenfranchise eligible voters and make running for elections the preserve of the well-off with the 1000 percent increment of fees for elections candidates.
Opposition parties, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are threatening to challenge the bill in court should Khama sign it into law. UDC is of the opinion that the bill violates section 32 of the constitution, which states that voting should be done through a “given ballot.”
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.