Botswana: Specially Elected Cllrs Distort Democracy

4 December 2019

An announcement by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale during the week, has confirmed fears that the dispensation of Specially Nominated Councillors (and Specially Elected Members of Parliament) is abused by the ruling party to distort outcomes of elections in different constituencies.

Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando has already expressed concern that specially nominated councillors distort electoral outcomes.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) this week used the dispensation of Specially Nominated Councilors to counter the electorates wishes who had voted out the ruling party against opposition. Molale as the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has in accordance with Section 13 Sub Section 1 and 2 of the Local Government Act of 2012, approved the Specially Nominated Councillors, including some names from the opposition but more from BDP aisle.

Political analysts have underscored that although Molale has appointed some of opposition members as councilors, he took advantage of dispensation to reserve more seats for the BDP. The 119 nominated Councillors by Molale had sparked widespread condemnation with BDP accused of taking advantage of dispensation after it realized it has lost control of some areas.

Political analyst Mokaloba Mokaloba said it has been expectation that BDP would wield more power to appoint majority of its members in areas where it has lost control of them at polls."Upon realization that it has lost control of majority of its stronghold constituencies, BDP used the dispensation to increase their numbers and hence they will take back the control of such areas using the doubled numbers. This reverses the people's wishes completely," said Mokaloba.

Another political commentator, Anthony Morima said there should be a constitutional clause that will highlight the criteria that could be used in nomination of Councillors so as to balance dispensation share. Morima also observes that most of the nomination within BDP circles was reserved for a few loyal party activists who campaigned handsomely for BDP ahead of the 2019 general elections.

"The BDP will continue to increase its numbers to beat the opposition even in places where electorates shunned BDP. If there is a quota share on how all parties should equally benefit on the dispensation but at the moment it is game of numbers benefiting BDP only," Morima said.

Serowe

The ruling party has for the first time lost the control of Serowe sub council to the opposition as it was white washed by the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) by winning 11 seats from 18 seats.

BDP only managed to secure victory of seven (7) seats and the only hope of the party was on the specially nominated Councillors as BDP added six (6) nominees hence surpassing BPF tally.

This means that BDP will control the Serowe Administrative Authority (SAA) because numbers advantage compared to BPF boosting 11 Councillors compared to total of 13 for the ruling BDP. To add more salt to the wound BPF never got it single member from across all 57 constituencies being nominated for the council, a move which pundits observed BDP meant to punish them.

Ghanzi

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has won the control of Ghanzi sub council winning 10 wards while BDP won nine (9) seats but the specially nominated council changed the picture.

BDP added five (5) nominated Councillors to its fold therefore having 14 members in total with UDC getting one nomination to take its number of Councillors to 11 hence losing power to BDP.

Selebi Phikwe

BDP lost two of Phikwe parliamentary seats to UDC and lost the grip of the council before the nomination but Phikwe Town Council still remains under control of UDC with eight Councillors.

Only one nomination was reserved for BDP with Amogelang Mojuta adding the number of BDP members to be seven from six that BDP had won during the elections hence BDP lost town grip.

BDP is in full control of Francistown, Gaborone and Kweneng, Southern, Chobe and South East, Kgatleng, Jwaneng and Kgalagadi councils sharing Ghanzi with UDC winning with one MP each.

UDC on the other controls Central District, North West and Selebi Phikwe council respectively.

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