The election is over. Congratulations to Batswana who made their voice heard. The voice was clear and as is the case, the voice of the people is the voice of God. So it is clear what God is saying to us. We must heed this ominous message. Batswana have been ready for change of government for at least the past fifteen years.
What has impeded this change is clear; failure by the opposition parties to work together despite having same ideology and same policies and belonging together. God hates divisions especially those motivated by selfishness and He says ‘a divided house… will not stand’. Motlhalefi mongwe o kile a bua are a ba ba sentseng ba baakanye.
BNF take over of government in 1999 was eminent. Everyone who cared was aware of it and BDP was extremely concerned about this prospect. Mysteriously and timely for BDP, BCP was born. This gave BDP an undeserved new lease of life that denied Batswana an opportunity to experience a new government. It has happened again this year; BDP is back in power thanks to same selfish tendencies. Combined opposition would have easily secured over 30 seats in parliament.
It is extremely disappointing that after the people for the first time have spoken so eloquently through the ballot box, that they want BCP to be part of the UDC, BCP leader and some of his cohorts are now telling Batswana that they did not make a mistake by pulling out of the UMBRELLA TALKS. They are happy to go it alone. Clearly they are not able to listen and understand the voice of the people and hence the voice of God.
The BCP language is not changing. It is the same language they used when BCP was formed. They vowed and bragged then with the same arrogance that they displayed at the rally they held in old Naledi on Sunday. In 1998 and subsequent years they openly bragged that they did not need BNF to win and will never work with BNF.
On Sunday they were on a warpath again saying they cannot be part of the UDC formation. Ao batho! Is this not strange coming from a party that sponsored the Umbrella model (during the first opposition cooperation talks) as the only viable model for opposition cooperation and pact model as a none starter?
Is it not strange coming from a party that started the umbrella talks with other opposition parties and said any party that walks away from the Umbrella talks should be punished by the voters? Is it not strange coming from a leader who walked away from the same talks on account of disagreement on allocation of two constituencies and then wanted a pact with BNF instead? Is it not strange that the same leader after being severely punished by the voters as per his own instruction is now blaming UDC for the voters who exercised their democratic right to punish him and his party?
Is it not strange that Mr. Saleshando is now saying he wants to consult on the model of cooperation, which model he introduced in 2004 and continued to champion in 2011? Is it not strange that he is now saying UDC is the same as BDP? Batswana can read between the lines. We are not stupid. The voters are saying to you, ‘if you do not want to cooperate with others, good luck to you, but we will punish you even more severely next time’.
BCP likes to play with statistics. They see themselves as the fastest growing party in the land and therefore they think they will eventually win without the other parties. Mr. Saleshando likes talking about these numbers. I want to tell him that statistics can lie big time. Statistics will tell you whatever you want to hear and Mr. Saleshando with respect must know that.
Let the following numbers from these elections talk to you for a minute;
Description No of voters Percentage (%)
Eligible voters 1,500,000 100%
People who registered to vote 824,000 55%
People who voted for BDP 321,000 21%
People who voted for UDC s 207,000 14%
People who voted for BCP 141,000 9%
People who voted for Mekoko & spoilt votes 30,000 2%
People who voted 699,000 47%
People who registered and not voted 125,000 8%
People who did not register to vote 676,000 45 %
Total people who did not vote 801,000 53%
These numbers show another story that is being ignored by all the political parties. There are 1,500,000 eligible voters in Botswana. Just fewer than 700,000 voted. Over 800 000 (53%) of eligible voters did not vote (only 47 % voted). There are three groups of people IEC and the opposition parties should be concerned about. These are:
People who did not register (676,000)
People who registered but did not vote (125, 000)
People who voted for independents (Mekoko) and spoilt votes (30,000).
Until you significantly reach these people, the talk of growth is hollow. I suggest that all the parties through parliament, should demand that IEC as part of their mandate, should conduct a basic study to determine why people did not register in such large numbers, why so many people who registered did not vote, why did we have so many independents and spoilt votes? This will help the IEC and the political parties to shape their strategies and prepare for the next elections.
My guess is that the people who did not register could not be bothered because they believed their vote would not make any difference in their lives. Their vote would not change the status quo. They did not believe the opposition was ready to lead this country.
Some were disappointed with the infighting within the opposition parties especially BNF and failure by BCP to join UDC. Some could perhaps not tolerate the long lines and inconvenience associated with queuing for registering and voting.
For the people who registered and did not register, it could be a result of our rigid electoral system that requires that you vote where you registered. People especially the unemployed move regularly from district to district in search for jobs and this requirement does restrict and disenfranchise many.
For the many independents and spoilt votes, it is most probably driven by poor internal party democracy and in some cases selfishness and unwillingness to accept defeat. Spoilt votes are most probably due to ignorance and or anxiety by these voters and IEC should find workable strategies to address to address this.
The question that should be at the lips of all the political parties should be, what should we do to get the 801,000 people to register and vote for us? For the opposition, they have their work cut out for them. There must unite under the Umbrella.
BCP in particular must swallow its pride, stop accusing UDC for their failure and stop trivilising the issues by saying they are the only party concerned about job creation, education for production, low wages and painting UDC as the same as BDP. This is cheap and will get BCP deep in the mud.
The majority (54%) of those who voted chose the opposition. The fact that the ruling party got only 46 % of the voters and is leading the country is not only an indictment on our ill-advised electoral system but also on the opposition parties who failed to unite.
Those who think there is some difference between UDC and BCP must think again. They all believe in social democracy. Their policies are the same and mainly drawn from BNF. The only notable difference is their party colours. The other differences are artificial and personal mainly driven by egocentric pride and intoxicating desire to be in front (lead) at the exclusion of others.
In conclusion UDC must remain focused on consolidating its gains under the Umbrella. The focus on individual parties must slowly fade away. UDC must with humility and strength of character continue to work towards bringing BCP to join the UDC.
They must continue to bring non aligned people to their ranks. The principled stand demonstrated by its leader DGB will bring in more people under the Umbrella shelter. Any other model other than the Umbrella will be retrogressive and must be rejected outright.
UDC must be careful of Khama’s friendly gestures. These gestures are most likely meant to derail UDC from its focus. Any dealings with Khama must be based on principle and clear conditions set out for any envisaged engagement. The confusion, Khama has already created in parliament by taking parliament to court is a clear indication that Khama cannot be trusted.
We look up to UDC and DGB to closely mark Khama to protect the interest of our people and our country. If it means bringing Khama to his knees before 2019, so be it. Good luck to all the parties and all Batswana as we start the march towards 2019.
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.