By six o’clock tomorrow morning, over 10,000 constituents of Goodhope/Mabule residents will start exercising their rights for a second time in less than 12 months, to vote for their representative in the National Assembly.
The total number of voters registered in the area exceeds 15,000, but due to voter apathy, and possible lack of financial resources for them to travel, the number is likely to decrease.
The position fell vacant after the MP for the area James Mathokgwane quit politics to join SPEDU under a cloud of controversy mixed with more questions than answers. Mathokgwane was the first opposition MP for the constituency.
While things of the past belong to the past, we have noted that the past does not always disappear easily.
We have observed that, like in the past, the ruling party continued to enjoy the advantage of using state resources such as the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) aircraft to carry out political campaigns, while their opponents have to dig deeper into their pockets.
Also at their advantage is the string of Kgotla meetings addressed by cabinet ministers we witnessed recently. This gives rise to the issue of a levelled political playing field that has evaded this nation since its independence, nearly five decades ago.
Even the members of BDP recently attested to this position that competing with a candidate who has the backing of state resources is a difficult and an impossible task to overcome.
We all remember vividly the recent outcry by Tebelelo Seretse who challenged Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the chairmanship of the BDP in Mmadinare.
The political playing field needs to be levelled through a simple and painless exercise of State funding of political parties. Our neighbours in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia are doing it, and the exercise has not caused any bloodshed or political instability.
The forefathers of these countries had a full appreciation of what it means to fund democracy from one’s pocket.
They had a vision that no citizen should be denied a right to stand for political office on the basis of their economic status.
They also appreciated the fact that the unlevelled playing field had the potential to distort the political wishes of the citizenry, hence they adopted state funding of political parties.
Observer missions from SADC and AU have regularly advised Botswana to do the same, but in vain. We once again call on the government to come up with a policy or legislation on state funding of political parties.
It would not be a painstaking exercise since we have neighbours who are already doing it. What will be needed of us is to go on benchmarking missions and adopt practices that are at the best suited for our nation. It is possible and we can start doing it now. Yes we can.
“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”
- James Bovard