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Khama factor key to UDC loss of 2019 elections – Africa report

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.

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President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has identified at least 12 cabinet ministers who form part of his long-term plans owing to their loyalty and tenacity in delivering his vision. Masisi, who will see-off his term in 2028 — provided he wins re-election in 2024 — already knows key people who will help him govern until the end of his term, WeekendPost has learnt.

Despite negative criticism towards ministers from some quarters over a number of decisions and their somewhat cold deliberations and failure to articulate government programs, Masisi is said to be a number one cheer leader of his cabinet. He is said to have more confidence in his cabinet and believes going forward they will reach the aspired levels and silence the critics.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

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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.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

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.

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