Mmegi Online :: Birth of 20 new constituencies?
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Last Updated
Monday 22 October 2018, 11:52 am.
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Birth of 20 new constituencies?

The Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Dumelang Saleshando, is preparing to trigger debate in Parliament in the coming weeks on the much-anticipated delimitation exercise, which will be carried out some time this year.
By Staff Writer Mon 22 Oct 2018, 19:52 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Birth of 20 new constituencies?








Once complete, the exercise is likely to give birth to between 20 and 25 new constituencies if the quota is to stay at the same figure as in 2002 (25,000) when it was last decided. 

The 2002 Delimitation Commission, which was chaired by the present Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo, produced 17 new constituencies in addition to 40 that existed then. It was initially thought there would be 65 constituencies but other factors brought this down to 57.

Speaking to Mmegi yesterday, Saleshando said that he is currently discussing with party members in what form he should bring up the matter before Parliament - through a motion or private members' bill. He said that for the process to go ahead, there should be a constitutional amendment bill that can be brought through a private members' bill or a motion. However, he would not reveal the number of new constituencies he wishes should be established, saying the House will determine the number. 
The Botswana Constitution stipulates that Parliament should debate the number of new constituencies then inform other stakeholders such as the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and the executive, who will then appoint a Delimitation Commission to consult the public on the setting up of the new constituency boundaries.

After the last delimitation exercise, the opposition accused the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of manipulating the system to its advantage. They alleged that the BDP was targeting opposition strongholds where it destroyed them by introducing new wards into some of the newly created constituencies that were not previously BDP strongholds.

Some of the constituencies that raised eyebrows were those of Ramotswa (which was broken into two new constituencies), Okavango (where some wards were made part of Nhabe) and Gaborone (where the constituencies were increased from four to five by breaking Gaborone West into two constituencies).

At that time, Gaborone was expected to produce four additional constituencies but that did not happen, as only one additional constituency was created after Gaborone West was split into Gaborone West South and Gaborone West North. The capital city had always been an opposition stronghold for decades until the 2009 general election when the BDP won four out of the five constituencies for the first time.

The Okavango constituency on the other hand, was an opposition stronghold but was torn apart and this gave way for the BDP to win the constituency, it is alleged.

Taung village, which is generally viewed as part of Ramotswa village, was placed under Tlokweng yet it is too far from Tlokweng. All administrative services for the village are rendered from Ramotswa.

The constitution states that the exercise should be carried out every 10 years and after a national population census. Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said that they are prepared for the exercise and are just waiting

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for the process to kick-off. "Let us wait for Parliament to do its part and we will do what is prescribed in the constitution. You know we are a law-abiding government," he said.

With the ruling party having split for the first time since it was formed 50 years ago, it remains to be seen how it will influence the outcome of the Delimitation Commission to its advantage if after all this is what it has been doing over the years.

Responding to Mmegi enquiries, the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) Principal Public Relations Officer, Osupile Maroba, stated that: "The exercise takes place after every comprehensive population census and is carried out by a Delimitation Commission appointed by the JSC. It may be appointed when Parliament has made provision altering the number of seats of elected members in the National Assembly".

He said that at the moment the preliminary results of the 2011 Population and Housing Census that estimate the population to be about two million, have been released.

Maroba said that the conclusion of the processes would lead to the preliminary consultation process by the Commission - to be chaired by a judge of the High Court. The general public will then be consulted through community meetings, oral and written submissions regarding the current boundaries and suggestions thereon. The submissions and assessment of boundaries will inform the recommendations in the Delimitation Commission report, he said.

The Delimitation Commission thereafter submits the report to the President in accordance with section 65 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Botswana for publication purposes. The Commission is dissolved immediately on the date of the submission of the report to the President.

After publication of the Delimitation Report, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) receives the report for implementation particularly for demarcation of new polling districts (council wards) and identification of polling stations including those outside Botswana. The IEC carries out these activities through committees established in each constituency with membership from all the stakeholders and technical officers.  Once all these activities are complete, next will be voter education to sensitise the public on the changes effected followed by general voter registration, Maroba explained.

Maroba said that though the requirement is such that the inhabitants of each constituency should be as close as possible to the quota (25-28,000), there are other factors that are taken into consideration and these may result in constituency populations being less or more than the established quota. The various factors include: means of communication; geographical features; population density and boundaries of tribal and administrative districts

"The Independent Electoral Commission is more than ready and is just waiting for the conclusion of Delimitation exercise by the relevant authorities. IEC implements the law and shall always be prepared to act in accordance with the requirement of the electoral laws," Maroba concluded.

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