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Masisi in snap election dilemma

Publishing Date : 29 April, 2019

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are caught in two contrasting worlds, the other one suggesting snap election while the other is very much against rushed elections as it could compromise the party retaining state power.


Political observers have in the past indicated the likelihood of having a snap election, a development which will be the first of its kind since independence, if it were to happen. The constitution of Botswana empowers a sitting president to dissolve parliament at any time. According to section 90 (3); whenever parliament is dissolved, a general election of the elected members of the assembly shall be held within 60 days of the date of the dissolution and a session of parliament shall be appointed to commence within 30 days of the date of that general elections.


Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is also scheduled to complete its final registration on the 28th of April 2019, a date which observers still say it allows Masisi to dissolve parliament subsequent to conclusion of the process. For more than once it is said the party has also weighed options of calling elections before the usual date of October. This was initially informed by the factions that riddled the party in the run-up to Kang Congress.


Now with the Kang chapter closed, the party has also entertained the thought again. This time it is premised on the former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s decision to endorse opposition and independent candidates in constituencies held by BDP members who are considered hostile to the former president. There is also a possibility of Khama and those sympathetic to him forming a breakaway party before general elections.


BDP advisors have suggested to Masisi that calling elections before October could counter Khama strategy which if left unattended could compromise BDP’s chances of retaining power, sources told this publication. It is said the belief within the party is that calling a snap election will give the BDP a better chance to win and even improve their popular vote from 47 percent of last elections.


Khama’s crusade of endorsing anti-BDP candidates in some constituencies is well on track with the latest victim being Sefhare-Ramokgonami MP Dorcas Makgato who saw Khama ‘endorsing’ his opposition rival Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). It is expected that a number of BDP candidates mostly in the central region will fall by the wayside due to the ‘Khama magic’. Central region is Khama’s territory as paramount chief of Bangwato, where he commands a large following in the territory, something which observers say could work against his BDP.


While still comprehending a mind blowing and convincing suggestion of snap elections, party members tasked to oversee various regions countered that possibility. The contention, according to insiders is that BDP is not yet ready for elections.
 “Even if preparations could be rushed the argument is the party is not ready. A lot of ground work needs to be done, so if elections are called it could be a recipe for bad things for the party and possibly give BDP rivals a bigger bite of the cake. So that was just an advice to the leadership,” an informant close to the actions told WeekendPost this week.


The party is launching its manifesto and the 57 candidates today at UB sports arena. Reports within the party say even candidates themselves are not ready to tussle for elections. The highlighted examples are Kanye North, Lobatse, Bobonong, Maun East, Boteti West, Selibe-Phikwe East and West and Okavango constituencies.


“Most of the constituencies have candidates who do not have politics background and they are having hard-times canvassing for votes and this is not good for the party. The opposition though it seems sleeping it could haunt us. We really need to work hard in the said constituencies,” an impeccable source told this publication.


Apart from newbies, it is said areas held by cabinet ministers are also behind in terms of ground work something which gives Central Committee members assigned with various regions a hard time. Official engagements are blamed for this as “candidates rarely have time to do the spade work but rather depend on the unreliable campaign teams.” 


All these have put Masisi between a rock and a hard place. It is expected that apart from engaging with those who are monitoring the regions, the president will have a meeting with the candidates in a bid to sensitize them about elections preparations. 
Masisi is said to be yearning to get a fresh mandate from the general populace owing to instability which has threatened his transitional term and will fight with everything possible to ensure that BDP wins the elections.


BDP according to African Monitor Report, published by United Kingdom based, Business Monitor International early this year is poised to win the upcoming general elections despite a fading public support. If the current rift in the party fails to shake the foundations the party will capitalize on a disjointed opposition to retain power.


The party according to the report will capitalize from stronger economic growth and fragmented opposition. The report which was focusing on the political and socio-economic atmosphere of African Nations, says the BDP win will be due to a series of interlocking factors which will play out ahead of the elections.

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