One of the current burning debates taking in politics is the issue of electoral campaign funding.
Of particular interest to the discussions is that Botswana, a landlocked Southern African republic considered one of the oldest democracies in Africa, does not have laws regulating political funding. Coupled with that, government does not finance political parties.
Both the regulation and funding deficit have created a void that different players jostle to fill and thereby make the best they can get.
In that regard, political parties are left to fend for themselves for funding since the law does not require them to disclose who their funders are. Nor does the law require the disclosure of the interest of funders even if they exist. That is the state of our stale democracy. For decades, opposition parties have been crying foul about the uneven political playing ground which favoured only the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). In what might be indicative of the funding hunger deprivation and starvation gnawing local political parties, for months now, we have been reading news that former president Ian Khama is sourcing funds from one of his rich associates in the neighbouring to allegedly to ‘topple’ President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Khama’s associates we read about are the very same people who have been sponsoring the ruling party with millions of Pula to win elections. The opposition leader, Duma Boko is also on record saying that he would not accept the tokenism of being given small crumbs by local businesspeople who give the BDP millions of Pula. So, if such people go to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with the pocket change the party will have no time for them. From a scenic scan of the political environment, It looks like in the coming general elections the UDC will be able to match the BDP pound for pound because we are told the ruling party is broke. It is also begging for sponsorship cap in hand!
For an example, it is alleged that last year the BDP top brass visited a certain Asian country to allow them to buy Morupule B and in addition to ask for a donation for the party in the upcoming elections.
Reports are that the former Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Chief Executive Officer was mainly pushed out because he did not believe in the sale of Morupule B. In his view, there was no business sense to sell the plant to that Asian country.
But government gave an impression that Morupule B would have collapsed in six months. That has not happened though and there has not been any load shedding despite the prophecy. In short, the plant was to be sold under pretext of it being useless or potentially expensive.
It was thought that the power utility would then introduce Morupule 5, 6, 7 and 8 which would have bankrupted the country. Very prominent families associated with some Cabinet ministers were reportedly behind the new power stations. In our view, the state of affairs demonstrates in clear sense the case why Botswana urgently needs public finance of political parties. Otherwise, what currently obtains continues, Botswana will be sold the dogs.
“Our only real hope for democracy is that we get the money out of politics entirely and establish a system of publicly funded elections.”
– Noam Chomsky