The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone Region is plotting a watershed moment for the political landscape. They have resolved that Parliament be lobbied to review the constitution of the Republic in a view to increase the number of constituencies elected through the first past the post from 57 to 80.
The Region is of the view that the last census should have recommended an increase in the number of constituencies instead of realignment and renaming. In their view waiting for the next census to explore the possibility of increasing Botswana’s constituencies is almost inconceivable looking at the vastness and population of most constituencies. The last census report was compiled in 2011 hence the next census will only come in 2021 and could only be relevant to the 2024 general elections.
The BDP delegates are of the view that waiting until then to address the issue of constituencies could cause more damage as it is evident that service delivery is already compromised as a result of cumbersome constituencies.
According to the resolutions adopted at the region’s congress in Gaborone, they further want the same review to include the review of the constitution to allow for 40 seats to be distributed through a Proportional Representation modality. That the combination be henceforth adopted as a Hybrid in advance of the 2019 General Elections. The BDP delegates believe that this will help Botswana attract women and professionals to Parliament.
In addition they want the party leadership to consider an increase in specially nominated councilors to allow the consideration of more women, youth, disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities. The delegates voiced out the concern that the constituencies in Botswana are too big hence compromising service delivery. They agreed on the need to streamline constituencies to improve the efficiency of Members of Parliament.
Justifying the need to increase Specially Elected MPs and Nominated Councillors, the delegates were of the view that Botswana is not doing well in the area of women representation and mainstreaming the youth and people with disabilities. They are of the view that increasing SEMPs and Nominated Councillors could help balance the gender equation.
The chairman of the Gaborone region, Bontsi Monare confirmed that “we do have a resolution of that form. But note that we are yet to test it internally where we expect members of the party to digest it before we can share any details. We are not at a stage where we could discuss its merits or chances of success,” explained Monare.
The delegates are said to have expressed that countries with comparable economies to Botswana had more constituencies and were using the hybrid model to diversify expertise in Parliament.
They pointed out that the issue of finances should not be the only yardstick used to shoot down the idea of increasing constituencies. They believe the party should look beyond money, because if service delivery is compromised, the country stands to lose out more.
Examples in the SADC region are such that the National Assembly of Lesotho is composed of one-hundred and twenty elected members. Eighty members are directly elected from constituencies and the other forty are elected through proportional representation.
The National Assembly of Namibia's bicameral Parliament has a total of 104 members. 96 members are directly elected through a system of party-list proportional representation and serve five-year terms. Eight additional members are appointed by the President. The sole chamber, the National Assembly, has 150 members directly elected, up to eight nominated by the president. Namibia has a comparable economy to that of Botswana.
The Gaborone region has also resolved that the Party Leadership commissions a team to develop the best model for Political Party Funding most relevant to Botswana for consideration and resolution at next year’s National Council. Political parties funding has been a topical issue lately and BDP’s Gaborone region is not averse to it.
The Gaborone region congress also made other recommendations. They resolved that the Party adopts a resolution to introduce a law on Citizen Economic Empowerment. The Congress believes that a clear law that puts the citizen first is long overdue. They also want the government to move to regulate the rates of rental in the republic to protect consumers from a market which is fast getting unaffordable for the middle class and indeed the poor.
In addition they want the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to review the state of the economy with a view to increasing salaries and wages of civil servants in the republic, and further adopting the incentive of a 13th cheque for civil servants in the context of the Economic Stimulus Programme. The delegates want civil servants to get salary increases for the next four years without fail.
As a move aimed at improving relations between the ruling party and trade unions, the Gaborone region resolved that the Central Committee requests the Labour Sub Committee to share with the National Council its current strategy to find a better more mutual working relationship with BOFEPUSU. The ideas are expected to be passed on to the BDP National Council which will look at them and pass them to the relevant bodies. The secretary general of the BDP may accelerate the resolutions to the level of congress for deliberation and adoption.
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.