The humiliating loss of the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) at the just ended 2019 General Elections has been attributed to their association with embattled former President Ian Khama.
UDC attained a paltry 15 constituencies, with Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) managing only 3, Alliance for Progressives getting 1 and 38 seats amassed by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). According to In On Africa (IOA), which is one of the leading Africa-focused research, consulting and publishing firms based in Africa and focused solely on Africa, Khama aspect was key to opposition being defeat by the BDP.
IOA research has pointed out in their findings released this week that “the assessment of the country’s political dynamics noted that the Khama factor did play a major role in the recent elections and ultimately proved to be a key element in the UDC’s failure to secure victory”. Additionally, the report posits that the neutral stance of the trade unions proved to work in favour of the ruling party as Duma Boko’s arrogance, coupled with the opposition’s affiliation with Khama, resulted in labour unions showing their support for the ruling party on Election Day.
Although opposition parties have expanded their reach in the northern regions of Botswana and wrestled control of the Central District away from the BDP, the report states that Masisi’s influence won the favour of the urban electorate and rolled back the ground gained by the UDC in the 2014 elections. It further states that Botswana’s political landscape has indeed experienced a evolutionary phase in its 2019 elections, which will see the coming 2024 elections favour “the most stable, proactive political party” instead of the “status quo or the Khama legacy.”
Still, “the newly formed party BPF, strongly relying on tribal politics and the influence of the Khama’s, had a notable impact on BDP’s influence in the Central District, and while the future of this ‘coalition of the bitter’ remains uncertain, it is worth keeping an eye on over the coming years,” the report further observes.
Looking in on the next five years, the IOA observes that Batswana are now met with a sense of relief following Khama’s now “limited influence” over the country’s politics and the BDP, bringing a measure of hope that has been lacking for the past 10 years. “Though some within the opposition and their support base may not agree with the outcome of the election, they too will still share in this sense of relief given the long-term impact left by the Khama legacy,” the findings posit.
However some political pundits on the other hand believe that Khama was instrumental in increasing the popular vote of both UDC and BPF through majority wins for MP’s in the Central District, which was for a long time BDP heartland. In Central District, Khama assisted the UDC to win Selibe Phikwe West, Selibe Phikwe East, Bobonong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Palapye, Tonota, Shoshong, Mahalapye East, and Mahalapye West, which were known to be BDP throttleholds. On top of that, BPF also won areas formerly within BDP grip, areas such as Serowe North, Serowe South and Serowe West.
Future BDP victories no longer guaranteed
The report further says that the year 2019 will forever be remembered as the election year where Botswana politics saw a giant leap forward surrounding the democratic experiment, and, should this trend continue it predicts that 2024 will be an even more competitive election. According to the report, Botswana politics is no longer guaranteed to be the preserve of the ruling BDP but can go either way henceforth.
“This evolution of Botswana politics brings in a sense of democratic competition and the very real threat that future BDP victories are no longer guaranteed,” the document asserts. Going forward, it emphasizes that the ruling party will need to ensure that it delivers on its election promises and upholds an air of positivity surrounding Masisi. “It needs to further ensure positive change, successfully combating corruption and attracting more intelligent politicians that are able to act and govern on par with the country’s current leader.”
As the world grows increasingly more connected and the media enjoys ever more influence, the ruling party needs to tread carefully in upholding its public image, the Africa report continues. Moreover, it points out that the days of undermining the media and the people -as the case was during former President Khama’s reign- is something the BDP would need to distance itself from and ensure that the party is never again tied to the same practices.
It warns that “the landlocked Southern African country continues to face an array of social ills and while the BDP and President Masisi have won the battle, there is still a metaphorical war to be won.” According to the report, Botswana’s current social conditions and wealth distribution also do not reflect that of an upper- middle income country and Masisi’s work has only just begun.
“As climate change continues to grow in prominence, Botswana’s water situation, with its knock-on effects across the socio-political spectrum, is a particularly important factor that needs an increased impetus with more effective service delivery in the country’s rural area,” IOA findings indicate.
Accordingly, it states that this will go a long way to improve the living standard and general health of many Batswana, and in relation to this, it explains that it is pertinent for Masisi’s government to find more effective methods to deal with human-wildlife conflict, in addition to the hunting ban.
“Any strategies aimed at the latter should also bear in mind the role of Botswana’s tourism industry, both in relation to the economy and broader employment. With this in mind the age-old over- reliance on the diamond industry will have to be adjusted and more proactive policies adopted to provide sustainable employment, especially among the youth,” it states.
However, a vital component of youth employment has proven to be education aligned with the needs of the job market, the Africa report indicates adding that Masisi’s government urgently needs to ensure that the currently misaligned tertiary education sector be re-evaluated and re-vamped in order to deliver graduates who are capable of meeting the country’s skills requirements.
It adds: “Botswana’s ruling government also needs to look inward and address the institutional weaknesses that manifest in its outdated constitution. For the good of the whole nation and its future, it is critical to close in on the constitutional and other legislative loopholes with an aim of promoting its checks and balances.”
This is particularly important in the fight against corruption, it maintains while highlighting that part of these institutional frameworks is the controversial image of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), which should also be reworked to truly serve the people instead of being an instrument at the disposal of the President.
The research was conducted by In On Africa (IOA) which is one of the leading Africa-focused research, consulting and publishing firms. IOA was founded in 2007 and aims to ensure data-driven decision-making through quality research and analysis. IOA offers a wide range of services to help clients better understand Africa and to accelerate growth on the continent.
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.