MPs, Cllrs to lose if BCP pulls out of UDC

BCP members
BCP members

The Botswana courts are yet to register another interesting political battle from the opposition parties. At issue is the dispute within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) especially amongst the two affiliates, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) which seems to be undermining the coalition.

Mmegi has learnt that the BCP legal team is already trying to find technical grounds it could use if the party’s intention to pull out succeeds and the move is to affect those holding key party positions. Currently, the party leadership is waiting for the endorsement of members in July 2022 on the matter at their conference and to get views of the party leadership forum on May 14, 2022.

This seems to be more confusing to both MPs and councillors who are under UDC as currently, as they do not know which stand they should take. The reality to many is sinking slowly as some of them may soon become jobless if indeed BCP wants pulls from the UDC. Historically, the BCP has had the highest numbers of MPs during elections in 201 9 as compared to other general elections. In the 2019 general elections, it won 11 parliamentary seats under the UDC.

Already the issue has caused debate in different party fora especially in WhatsApp groups. While the BCP leadership recently called on its attorney to assure members in a caucus that if they pull out as BCP, then it would not affect their seats, some legal experts see the issue differently.

The view had made many, especially MPs and councillors think deeply as they will be the most affected while others believe they should try the risk or go to court if the Speaker of the National Assembly takes a view that disadvantages them.

According to the new amendment of section 68, of the Botswana Constitution, the seat of an elected member or a specially elected member of the National Assembly shall become vacant upon dissolution of Parliament, if she or he is absent from the sittings such circumstances as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of the Assembly, subject to the provisions of subsections (2) and (3) of this section if any circumstances arise that, if he or she were not a member of the Assembly, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election thereto; if he or she was elected to the Assembly for a political party, the member resigns from the party or if she or he was elected to the Assembly as a candidate who is not a member of a political party.

Professor Tachilisa Balule of the law department at the University of Botswana says it will be an ill-advised move if the BCP could think of taking the route of decamping from the UDC.

“It is quite clear that the UDC had registered as a political party at Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) not as a coalition therefore, this clause becomes very clear that if the BCP resigns from the UDC then automatically the seats of those MPs and councillors would become vacant. What could happen is that the UDC may inform the Speaker of the National Assembly that the BCP has pulled out of them," said Balule.

He added that the issue here is that the BCP has never campaigned or contested the positions under its ticket, therefore the MPs and councilors are recognised as member of the UDC.

"Automatically, we will be having by-elections for those areas. This one they cannot win court, in any event, they would want to challenge it. The issue is that they were elected under UDC ticket that is regarded as a political party, not a coalition," he noted.

He also said the BCP must advise itself more on the amendment and what it could mean to it before taking a route that it might find itself having to run around courts to try to protect its seat in Parliament which might not be successful.

An attorney, Paul Muzimu also emphasised that the clause is clear, the BCP will lose the seats in both Council and Parliament.

“They will be headed for a by-election. Members of Parliament of the BCP were elected through the UDC ticket through group membership. If the BCP gets out of the UDC, their seats would be declared vacant,” he said.

He also said even the UDC constitution clearly shows that parties join under group membership therefore BCP has joined another party in that format which is the provision that other small parties have been doing to join bigger ones.

UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that they have registered UDC as a party, not a coalition though it operates on that format.

IEC manager of elections affairs and field operations Dintle Rapoo confirmed that to them the UDC shows that it is a political party, not a coalition.

Editor's Comment
Escalating fuel prices cause panic

Nowadays it is not uncommon to purchase an item for a certain commodity and return to the shops in a week, to find the same item has gone up by a significant amount of money.Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) last week announced yet another fuel price increase, which follows yet another increase that came into effect on March 29. Hardly two months later on May 12 boom, BERA announced yet another increase, which came into effect at a...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up