While it seems that the recent controversial Criminal and Procedure (Controlled Investigations) Bill (2022) that was approved by Parliament to be debated as a matter of urgency may have ruffled people’s feathers because it encroaches on their civil liberties, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is worried that the Bill may cost it dearly in the upcoming weekend by-election at Ledumadumane East ward in the Mogoditshane constituency and other by-elections, if any, in future. Mmegi Correspondent LEBOGANG MOSIKARE writes
FRANCISTOWN: The eavesdropping Bill has not only rubbed those in the political arena the wrong way but it has also been dismissed by some lawyers, academics and apolitical bodies in equal measure as an unwelcome law.
The Bill was also reportedly not well received by some BDP legislators who feel that it is going to intrude into the privacy of citizens’ lives once it is passed into law.
In fact, the Chief Whip of the BDP Liakat Kablay confirmed in an interview with the Botswana Guardian that the Bill is causing some uneasiness within the party because it seems that only the Executive is privy to why it passed for debate in Parliament on urgency to the detriment of their colleagues in the backbench.
“Most MPs (Members of Parliament) and Batswana do not understand this law. As the governing party, it is our responsibility to take everyone on board. Maybe the ministers understand it but as for MPs it is a different thing altogether...,” Kablay expressed displeasure about the Bill as per the Botswana Guardian.
Kablay was even blunt about the Bill stating that it is now used as political fodder by opponents of the BDP to decampaign the party.
Kablay also advised the leadership of the BDP to consult broadly first before coming up with such bills in future.
While Kablay and some of his colleagues are raising some red flags about the Bill, spokesperson of the BDP Kagelelo Kentse said the party is not worried about it.
Kentse says the Bill will not dent the potential of the BDP to retain the Ledumadumane East by-election, but it is mostly used by their opponents for petty political interests.
“As BDP, we have brought the Criminal and Procedure (Controlled Investigations) Bill (2022) to Parliament for debate. It can either be approved, rejected or approved with some amendments. This is what happens in a democracy. Those who are making noise about the Bill will have the opportunity to oppose it in Parliament. If you could have listened very carefully to the press conference that was recently called by the leader of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe, and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) legislator, Mephato Reatile, you could have discerned that although there have some misgivings about the Bill, they are not totally against it but want it to conform to international standards,” said Kentse, adding that even a lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) said the Bill is necessary.
“The opposition knows that we need the Bill to curb organised crime and manage national security threats. There is absolutely nothing controversial about the Bill,” he added.
Kentse conceded that the BDP leadership was deeply hurt by the losses that the party suffered at the hands of the combined opposition during the recent by-elections.
The heavy losses were partly attributed to the controversial Tautona Lodge acquisition, high profile cases that the State lost at the courts and the winning of a lucrative government tender by the sister of President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
“We always want to win any by-election but if we lose some, we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand. We shall rise and carefully reflect about what may have went wrong. The BDP has now thoroughly prepared to win the impending Ledumadumane East by-election. Our recent losses in the by-elections can be partly attributed to the fact that we did not rigorously campaign during those elections due to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place. The situation is now better because we can now campaign freely. We have and are still thoroughly carrying out house to house campaigns and hold rallies. There is now how you can win elections without doing exhaustive house to house campaigns,” Kentse said.
He added that house to house campaigns are the best way to campaign because they give party activists the opportunity to meet voters physically, hear their concerns and explain the party manifesto to the electorates during elections.