Botswana has just emerged from one of the most contested elections in her history. For the first time the opposition has suffocated the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to an extent that the party failed to score a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Out of 57 elected Members of Parliament, the BDP has 37; the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has 17; and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has three.
Tati West legislator, Samson Guma Moyo has in the immediate past Parliament desired to table the subject of direct election of the president. This week he told this publication that the subject of direct election of the President will first have to be sold to the BDP members before it reaches Parliament.
He indicated that while he may have wishes, first the motion should be sponsored by the party before it is debated in Parliament. He said the BDP National Council and Congress will first have to deliberate on the subject so that it is agreed to or rejected depending on the views of the party members.
According to Moyo the subject has quiet some weight because it calls for the amendment of the constitution therefore it must be appreciated by party members before being subjected to Parliament scrutiny. He indicated that it was long agreed that subjects which are weighty in substance should first be appreciated at party level.
Meanwhile President Lt Gen Ian Khama is expected to announce his Vice President as soon as the High Court decides on the matter in which the Presidency and the National Assembly are at loggerheads over the modus operandi of conducting voting in Parliament.
Many speculate that the decision will make or break the ruling party depending on the choice of candidate. The incoming Vice President will feel the direct consequences of direct election of the president should it sail through. Former President, Sir Ketumile Masire says he is against the arrangement where Vice President automatically becomes President without going through an election.
The BDP Congress and National Council are expected to chat the way forward as far as the ruling party is concerned. There has been talk of some senior members of the party willing to challenge whoever will be appointed Vice President for the position of President when Khama leaves. It is very likely that the next two congresses could spell a lot of changes in the BDP.
Observers point out that whatever the BDP does will also be influenced by the shape and status of the opposition which appears to be ready for full cooperation. The opposition parties’ quest for unity is motivating by the fact that the BDP is a minority government by popular vote despite scooping the majority of Parliamentary seats. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are expected to agree on the subject of unity in preparation for 2019.
PROFESSOR MONAGENG MOGALAKWE’S VIEWS University of Botswana of Botswana lecturer, Professor Monageng Mogalakwe says Guma Moyo’s motion on Direct Election of President is a good idea. “I like the idea of the direct election of the President, especially the American type.
Such a directly elected President should appoint his own management team, or cabinet from outside the Legislature But it is dishonest, disingenuous and opportunistic to pretend that this idea is original. This is a well-known position of the Botswana National Front (BNF) which has appeared in its various policy documents on governance,” he said.
He points out that the motion should not be narrowly focused on the election of the President, but seek a comprehensive review of the Constitution, and adapt it to the current political trends in the region and globally.
“For example, there is a need to detach and decouple the Parliament of Botswana from the Office of the President to which it is currently fettered. There must be a clear separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature. The Executive, while having authority and power to run the country on day to day matters, must be accountable to Parliament on both policy and operational issues,” he said.
According to Mogalakwe, recommendations to make Parliament Independent of the Executive are contained in the Bahiti Temane Report of 2003 on the Study of On the Independence of the Parliament of Botswana. This report is gathering dust on the shelves of Parliament Library. The so-called reforms by MmaNasha are based on that report, and the right thing to do is to have the Report tabled for debate by the this Eleventh Parliament.
Commenting on President Khama’s Vice President choice, Mogalakwe said: “This is more than a BDP internal matter, it is about Khama successor. The BDP lost the opportunity to entrust its leadership to the more experienced BDP cadres, but opportunistically donated (ba e shoma) the leadership to Ian Khama, apparently to tap on his assumed charisma and political magnetism. The 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections have revealed that Ian Khama has no such charisma and magnetic appeal. BDP would have been better off under Kedilkwe than Khama. The BDP needs to look for a leader who will revive the fortunes of the party, after Khama recklessly squandered them.”
On decisions of the next BDP national congress, Mogalakwe says the BDP would be out of business if it was not for the fragmentation of the opposition vote. He said for the first time since independence, and under President Khama, the BDP is a minority government.
“If only the UDC and BCP can get their act together, the BDP would be out of business come 2019. One thing that can prevent the political demise of the BDP is the proportional representation electoral system, which they have dismissed with contempt in the past. Introducing a direct election of the President and trying to smuggle Khama back after two disastrous performances will not assist them much. The BDP should just forget about building the Khama Dynasty. It is now a discredited and failed project. Our Republic should be led by republicans, even if they are BDP,” he said.
UDC AND BCP DECISION ON UNITY Mogalakwe said there is a need for both UDC and BCP to crack out of this mutually assured destructive mind-set where they view one another as the immediate target to be destroyed, as a tactical manoeuvre towards a long term strategic objective of defeating the BDP. He said this did not work in 2004, where the opposition lost 12 seats due to split vote, it did not work in 2009, where the opposition lost nine seats due to split vote, it did not work in 2014 where the opposition lost a staggering 15 seats due to spilt vote. It will not work in 2019.
“In business language, the UDC and the BCP are selling the same product, but are splitting up their market share, much to the amusement of the BDP. If you came from Mars you would not tell who UDC was and who BCP was when you listen to them carefully. The unity between the BCP and UDC cannot be brought about in a mechanical way, but will be a process involving political and spiritual rebirth, and as in every birth, there will be a lot of pain,” he said.
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.