Last Updated
Friday 22 May 2015, 18:03 pm.
Are political campaigns realistic?

FRANCISTOWN: Politics is usually associated with astuteness and dirty tricks. Very often, politicians are thought to be sweet-talkers. Like a man proposing love to a woman they can promise all the sweet things that one could ever dream of.
By Staff Writer Mon 25 May 2015, 19:20 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Are political campaigns realistic?

Political men and women can be very persistent in their campaigns, just like relentless sales agents who never give up until they make a sale.

It has become evident that prior to the elections politicians become very aggressive in their campaigns that they would do anything in their power in a bid to win votes. In the run-up to the recent elections, political posters and billboards of different sizes and designs with colourful promises of a better life were seen everywhere in the country.

Politicians all over were on their toes, promising a better life for everyone if elected into power.

"During this time politicians tend to be good listeners and some become Good Samaritans," says Tapologo Mookami, a resident of Block 8 location in Francistown.

Wikipedia describes a political campaign as an organised effort, which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. It further states that in democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referenda are decided.

Against this backdrop, one wonders if the promises made by politicians during campaigns are to hoodwink the gullible electorate. Do politicians live up to their promises during their five-year tenure of office?

"Most politicians are just there to serve their own interests ahead of those of the people who voted them. Once in office they tend to forget the people who put them in that office," says 76-year-old Lathang Mazungu of Monarch location in Francistown West.

He said since the first elections he has been voting with the hope of getting a better life but up to this date he is still ravaged by poverty. He said he has been hoping that the politicians would advocate for the increment of the old age pension fund. "The P220 old age pension fund I get is not enough to sustain me," he says.

Another electorate, Oteng Tlhalerwa of Tati Siding concurs that politicians never live up to their promises once voted into power. He says that most politicians tend to promise the electorate impossible things. "For example, our councillor has promised us that he would bring developments in Tatisiding and that we would see some banks being built in our village. We are just waiting to see if these promises are going to be met," says Tlhalerwa.

He says by casting his vote in the past general elections he was putting the politician he voted for to a test to see if he would do what he promised. "Up to now we have not seen anything that would suggest that the politician would deliver. If he fails we just vote for another one in the next elections," he says.

Kebabonye Johannes of Minestone says she does not see any reason for her to vote. Being a street vendor she says politicians have failed to speak up for their rights so that they could operate freely without harassment from the council.

"Time and again the council by-law officers harass us and want us out of the mall. Our councillors and parliamentarians tend to enjoy the air-conditioned offices and forget the electorate," says Johannes.

An elderly, Sensunde Dzawanda, 70, says political campaigns nowadays are just meant to dupe the electorate. She says in the olden days politicians used to have the interests of their voters at heart.

"These days you just hear someone promising things that are beyond reach and you just wonder how they are going to attain them," she says.

She adds that in the past, politicians would never be idealistic in their campaigns. She says most politicians would explain to the electorate that they would push for the implementation of government programmes, as outlined in the national development plan.

"A true politician has to be realistic. They don't just promise people the moon and the stars and hope that they will get away with it," says Dzawanda.

However, some voters believe that most political campaigns are made in good faith.

And 22-year-old Lorato Mothoka argues that it is good that politicians are so ambitious in their campaigns. "Sometimes the politicians make these promises with the hope of attaining them, but as you know, you cannot always achieve all the things that you hope for," he says.

He notes that implementation of projects is a long-term thing that cannot be done over a period of five years. He says in most cases most politicians achieve a majority of the things they promise. "It is only that time does not allow them to carry out all the things that they had promised," he quips.

For Onalenna Lekang, 29, at the present time it is too early to tell whether politicians will deliver or not. As a first-time voter she does not know what to expect from politicians.

In the meantime, a political expert, Dr Zibani Maundeni of the University of Botswana (UB) says most political campaigns are made in accordance with the party programme. He says most politicians promise the things that are laid out in their party manifestos. By so doing, he says, this gives politicians, from the ruling party, a better chance to deliver on their promises than those from the opposition.

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