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MPs may lose seats

Publishing Date : 13 January, 2020

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

All the 57 publicly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) are presently running helter-skelter reconciling their election expenditure as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) expect them to have submitted the reports not later than the 26th of this month.


The electoral act clearly states that, “within 90 days after the results of any election has been declared, every candidate at that election shall render to the returning officer a true return in such form as the Secretary may direct and verified by an affidavit,” reads section 87 of the act. The affidavit should show all the expenses which have been paid during the election campaign period and all the election expenses which are unpaid and undisputed.


The act further says, all money which, under the provisions of section 85, they are required to disclose in the return and the name of the person from whom he received such money. Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAPA) Kabo Morwaeng successfully moved as a matter of urgency for; “Honourable members to have submitted their returns on election expenses for the 2019 elections by the 26 January 2020.”


Failure by the members of the August house to submit will leave them with devastating consequences hence the MPs are racing against time to submit the reports. According to the act, in the case of a successful candidate at an election and the return has not been rendered within the period prescribed, candidate shall not thereafter sit or vote in the National Assembly until such return has been rendered.  “A candidate who fails to comply with the provisions shall be guilty of an illegal practice unless such failure has been excused by a condoning order,” the act read in section 87.4.


Already legislators are busy trying to balance their books before submitting to the returning officer.  Molepolole North MP Oarabile Regoeng has told this publication that they are busy at work not to miss the deadline but there are hiccups.  “Some of us are still new and we were not conversant with some of these law or acts. For now I am trying to look for receipts and reconcile the numbers for submission. It is unfortunate we were told after elections it will be difficult but we will try to oblige by the act,” he said in an interview on Wednesday this week.


The electoral act says the election expenses of any candidate shall not exceed P50 000 and the MPs following the move by Minister Morwaeng to increase the expense to P2 million are ecstatic.  “It has long been overdue for, it could have been long changed, nowadays no one can use that amount it is ridiculous and way too little to cover for the expense,” Regoeng added. Another legislator Ignatius Moswaane has also admitted that they will have to mind the clock as it is already late.


“We have been here for other parliamentary businesses that included swearing in of president and responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), so considering that we should have filed before the 26th, it is a tough order. You should listen to the MPs so that they don’t end up caught on the wrong side of the law for not submitting,” he pleaded. For now it is not yet clear as to whether all the legislators would have submitted their expense report then, but they are mindful of the repercussions awaiting them.


For the first time in the history of Botswana, the IEC will enforce the P50 000 campaign expenses ceiling on politicians, and those who exceed the threshold will be punished. Principal Elections Officer in Mogoditshane, Khumo Lebang last year cautioned the politicians that the statute has been in place but has never been implemented such that politicians were punished but this year the IEC will go that far.


“Candidates who win should know it in advance that the rule of law should be respected. Without submitted returns they will not debate in respective chambers – council and parliament,” he warned. Gaborone Bonnington South legislator Christian Greef has also lamented about the low money stipulated for the campaigns, but said he will surely submit before deadline.


“It is a law that has been in existent so I have been aware and I will ensure that I furnish the relevant authorities with the report at the right time. The only problem has been the P50, 000 threshold for the campaign but it has been increased which is a good thing because elections are now expensive.” Following the passing of the bill late last year, those who succeeded in the elections will now be expected to file expenditure return of P2million. Morwaeng when presenting the motion said election campaign is now a tedious and expensive process that needs a bigger budget.

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