The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and other stakeholders have recommended that there should be direct election of the President so as to usher in a President who is popularly and democratically elected among other recommended reforms.
In its National stakeholder’s evaluation report for 2014 general elections, the IEC contends that the direct election of the President would enhance the country’s democracy.
“Currently, the President is not directly elected, yet wields extensive powers and this is not in the interest of consolidating our democracy,” the reports reads in part.
The stakeholders further wants the date of elections which is currently dictated by the sitting President to be entrenched into the country’s constitution to promote a fair playing field for all political parties.
Currently the President of the ruling party is the only one who decides on the date of elections. This IEC said gives an advantage to the ruling party.
“This is to avert a scenario where the country’s President, who is also president of a political party, has exclusive knowledge of the date and may share it with his party to prepare ahead of political competitors,” further reads the recommendations.
Another area that the stakeholders believe needs attention is the delimitation exercise which they strongly contended that it has to be completely vested with the IEC and not the delimitation Commission, which many believe is usually influenced by the ruling party.
The stakeholders are of the view that the delimitation exercise should involve political parties more. It was also argued that the IEC should engage political parties in the demarcation of ward boundaries until the end of the process to ensure openness.
“It was felt that the delimitation exercise was completed too close to the past general election and this disenfranchised parties as they had to contend with redrawn boundaries within a short period of time,” the report further stated.
This, it stated led to political party events calendars being compromised. The recommendation therefore was that, the delimitation exercise be completed at least two years before registration for the next elections begins.
Although stakeholders were of the view that the process of drawing boundaries be upheld, they suggested that there be special consideration to reduce the huge distance covered by some council wards.
The Stakeholders further felt that Botswana should review the Electoral Act to include proportional representation or a hybrid of proportional representation and the current past the post electoral system. Through the adoption of this, the system would be made to have a fairer reflection on the popular vote in the distribution of numbers of Parliamentarians in the legislature.
It was also recommended that the country’s constitution must express the independence of the IEC.
“Stakeholders conceded that currently the IEC conducts credible elections and exercises some independence and fairness. Despite this, there were fears that unless such independence is clearly stipulated in the constitution, it is possible for a government in future to thwart the independence of the IEC.
On the issue of qualifications, stakeholders overwhelmingly thought that educational qualifications should not be screening criteria for elected public office. “This would deny potentially good leaders a chance to lead their people, rather it should be left to the people to elect those who are more educated if they so wish, and it was argued that educational qualification does not necessarily make a person a good leader.”
Stakeholders also cautioned against the use of civil servants as returning officers because this could affect service delivery.
Dissolution of Councils was another area of concern. It was recommended that councils should not be dissolved in a similar manner and time as Parliament for the general election. Stakeholders argued that councils serve communities and when you dissolve them for elections; the communities will suffer given that they help communities until midnight on Election Day. “In the interest of Service delivery they should not be dissolved.”
Stakeholders also proposed that continuous registration be continued as it gives an opportunity to more people to register to vote.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.