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The grand franchise theft - Who owns the candidates?

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
The people vote both party and candidate.

At least, that is, the psychological setting. It’s hard to contend with this fact. True, some would vote for anything that runs under their party symbol, even if it is a pig. Some would insist still, that they love their party but would have withheld their vote, had it been a different candidate.

As a matter of constitutional principle, though, the enquiry may be slightly different. The suffrage, and the resultant contract are between the voter and the representative. It’s not a clear black and white case. The vote is a amalgam of both voter preference of candidate and constitutional imperatives. The two, whilst distinct, are two sides of a coin. The vote is therefore, for the most part, indivisible. To put it simply that people vote for a party, is a falsity.

As said, suffrage, belongs to the voter, not party. You can argue with your Constitution. People vote candidates who run under a party. Were that not the case, there would be no need for candidates at all. Parties would simply, stand as parties, and then, choose representatives after the fact, possibly through internal party processes. Can such logic be acceptable? Clearly no. If we agree that it is not; and some may not, then we must of necessity, agree that the singular party imperative cannot be decisive of the question on floor crossing.  A party is just a legal construct; a vehicle for the attainment of state power because ours is a majoritarian democracy. People’s rights do not come after party rights. In fact, the reverse is true. The appropriation, and expropriation of the peoples vote, by the ruling party politburo, is an act of disenfranchisement. It is an act of saying, the representatives are not the representatives of the people, but of the party, and that the party is itself the representative of the people, with candidates simply being merchantable wares through which voters are enticed.

It should not put the party, not the voter, at the centre of the electoral process. It may even be to draw a constitutional equation between the two; a false parity between the interests of party in the vote and that of the voter. Alternatively, plot to say that the interest of the party is in and of itself, the interest of the voter.

It’s all fraudulent. Voters, vote candidates to Parliament, It is the party, not the candidate that is the sales pitch. It is the candidates that sell the party, not the other way round. The last time I checked, there was no such thing as a candidate party, in an election. Only a party symbol, under which a candidate ran. Government is formed out of the majority of candidates that the voters have chosen.

Candidates are aggregated, and the better fraction of such, determines which party assumes state power. As such, parties only contribute a symbol; a brand at best. This brand, is hyped up as an assurance of the quality of the government people can hope to have, if the candidate and other like minded jointly form a government.

They come in be end, after all is done. As such, the logic that parties are shareholders in the vote, is patently absurd. How you treat floor-crossing candidates must reflect primarily, the interest of the voter in the representative, which by

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the way is paramount, and is independent of the interest of the party in the representative.

My contention is that the party itself, can come up with ways it can deal with traitors and those in breach of contract. Ian Khama did that without having to tinker with the Constitution. He dealt with the BDP’s single biggest defection, internally. One might say he was heavy handed, but that is besides the point. For that, he deserves credit. Parties should not make their problems national emergencies. What we are seeing, is Mugabeism.  I maintain that the contract with the voter is the real, constitutionally recognised marriage. On the other hand, is the comparatively lesser interest of the party in its symbol, as opposed to the representative. Its contract with the representative is that, they would run under its symbol, and would be bound by its rules. That’s a matter for lawyers, not the constitution.

It’s in the realm of private law, in particular contract, not constitutional law. It is not a relationship of constitutional significance. It is nothing but a side chick relationship, at best a cohabitation, which should be terminable without the necessity of formal divorce proceedings. In our present context, a scorned, arrogant side chick, being the BDP leadership, is trying to topple the main house - the constitutional contract - through a constitutional amendment.

Some say the fact that a party symbol, and not a picture of the candidate appears in the ballot, as opposed to the name of the individual, means that the representative is running away with a party seat. It is a party seat because the representative decided as such. That party symbol, I have said, is just a sales pitch. Remove it, and the candidate does not lose their right to stand under another party or as an independent.

It means little, if you consider the issue as a whole. Even independents have symbols under which they run. But alas, in terms of the amendment, such symbols will be taken from them, when they join parties, even though such aren’t the property of a collective. What is this, if it is not an attempt to outlaw the threat of opposition unity. It’s all pretext, forget the history of the motion. History is a tool for learning. It’s not of itself, logic. Sometimes, it’s not even logical. I digress.

Why it is, that an independent loses their position when they join a party? The logic is contradictory, because in this example, there is an appreciation that the contract is between the voter and the candidate. Yet, as regards members of parties, the logic suggests that the contract is between the candidate and the party, with the candidate being merely a deployee. Yet, they are treated all the same. I understand that the matter is referred back to the electorate. But that is only because the party thinks it is a shareholder in the vote. The voters can always punish the representative by not re-electing them. But then, power may have been lost by then. More like closing the stable when the horses have bolted. So we know the problem. The problem is that the ruling class, who own the parties, are protecting their hegemony. It has nothing to do with a fresh mandate. Its self-serving.



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