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Know your electoral laws

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
We are approaching the national elections year. Of course the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will win. Soon there will be rallies and motorcades everywhere. It’s the end of the five-year cycle. An opposition friend of mine says that time has never been more ripe for a change of government.

Thinking of him today, I missed my grandmother. She was the kind that would threaten to beat you up even though she could neither hold, run nor see. God bless her soul. God bless the opposition.

Of course his is all wishful thinking. An inability to rationalise things which can only be symptomatic of an obsession with prohibited substances. The ever quarrelling opposition are simply incapable of exploiting the BDP’s weaknesses even at this time of extreme vulnerability. They are busy playing marbles while the BDP are limping their way to victory.

There was a time when I would have cheered up a coup but no more. The reality is that by the time the opposition wake up, if they ever will, theirs will be an exercise in damage control. The big question, as it is, is as to whether we will be ruled by a Khama BDP or the incumbent’s. I hope the latter wins. That’s no secret. I cannot imagine living the next 10 years of my life like I lived the last 20. I cannot imagine discussing the purchase of tomahawk missiles whilst my people starve.

I don’t want to discuss the moral propriety of keeping three baby elephants alive at over half a million pula while remote villages have no maternity wards and people die from inadequate health care. I cannot go back to the era of indiscriminate surveillance, institutionalised corruption, a captured judiciary, deployment of army personnel as heads of the civilian institutions, backyard gardening, senseless nyeletso lehuma carnivals and everything the past regime represented and desires to come back for. A time when key appointments in government were about friendships and protection of strategic business interests and the EVM.  Never again should we be taken back to those years.

So the BDP contest is the contest I am watching. The risks are high. Extremely high, I dare say.  It will be important, therefore, for every Motswana to register to vote and to know what their vote means to their nation and to their children. Forget that you do not know who you will vote for. Indeed, you may think that there is no one worthy of your vote.

You may even think there is nothing for which to vote. The tragedy is that whether you vote or not, someone will and you would have to live with their choice. If you cannot find a suitable candidate, just do damage control.

I don’t know who I will vote for either. I don’t even have a

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party.  I just know what I will not vote for and what I will vote against. That will guide my choice of candidate even if I end up with a monkey for a member of parliament.

Make no mistake about it, I am not writing the opposition’s obituary as yet. The opposition base is loyal and excitable, just like Zebras fans. Two successive wins and the stadium is full. Two successive losses and it is empty. And like the mother body, they are always embroiled in internal strife. If they can emerge from the madness they are presently parading, sparks will fly, come 2019. 

I have differed with many in opposition circles who suggest that BDP internal wrangling is just party factional wars. It is in fact everybody’s business because we are a de facto one party state thanks to no dictator but to a hopeless opposition.

It is not just a battle for the control of the party where power is an end in and of itself. It is a battle for the control of the nation’s destiny where democracy is the government of the many by the few for the privileged few, their few white friends and elephants. It is not an internal clash of ideologies but a war between the past and the future. The 2019 elections will shape the nation’s destiny more than any we have had before and it is not only important for Batswana to vote but to vote wisely.

Enough ranting. What can one do in these troubled times? I have decided that for the weeks coming I will try and unpack the Electoral Act for you. That is what you can expect from future instalments of this column. I will discuss associated laws and will only detour when someone does something remarkably moronic like spending P600, 000 of public money on elephant nappies while secondary school kids must cut mattresses for sanitary pads.

It is as important to understand your candidates, as it is to understand your rights and obligations regarding the electoral process. We will discuss possible electoral reforms including why I believe Cabinet must be appointed from outside parliament. We will go beyond that to discuss electoral institutions as well as local and foreign cases on electoral disputes. I will try as best as I can to simplify the language in order that we may all follow. I will be happy to receive feedback from you. I look forward to learning with you. Let us begin.

kgosi2005@gmail.com



Chief On Friday

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