Opinion divided on BDP term limit

BDP MP's in Parly
BDP MP's in Parly

FRANCISTOWN: A proposal by some in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to set term limits for is legislators and councillors is ill-informed, analysts have posited.

They hold the view that the motion will be met with stern opposition from party cadres. The ruling party youth wing recently (at a special congress in Kang) proposed that the office bearers referred to should only serve two-term limits not exceeding 10 years.

The BDP National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) argues that if legislators and councillors hang around for more than a decade, the development could fuel political careerism. The term limit proposal is expected to be tabled at the party’s upcoming elective congress that is slated for July this year.

“I wonder how such a motion will help enhance democracy within the BDP and the country if adopted. What will happen to many talented and dedicated MPs as well as councillors after serving for 10 years, supposing the party adopts and implements the motion?” wondered political analyst Ndulamo Morima.

Morima warned that should the proposal come to pass the BDP risks losing talent, which could ultimately mean that it will not be able to compete effectively in elections. 

“ Voters should be left to decide whom they want as their Member of Parliament or councillor. They will decide the term limits of their MPs and councillors through voting.

I do not see the motion getting support from the majority at the congress. It will really face strong opposition from party members,” the political analyst said. 

Instead, Morima said that BDP should be pushing for a motion that will enable the party to recall legislators and councillors who are incapable of achieving anything substantial during their terms in office.

“The BDP should be prioritising discussions on pressing matters such as the direct election of the State President,” he added.

Morima agreed with the BDP NYEC that the term of office for  members of the party’s central committee (CC) should be increased to five years instead of the current two. The proposal is also subject to approval by the July elective congress.

“That is actually much healthier (giving the party central committee a five year term). Assuming that the BDP government remains in power, giving the CC a mandate to serve for five years will ensure a strong synergy between parliament, government (led by the BDP) and the CC in terms of driving the manifesto of the BDP,” he said.

He emphasised that the party should put strong mechanisms to ensure that there is no complacency among CC members if at all they get the nod to serve the party for years. He said that this would avert the risk of the party collapsing as a result of a dysfunctional CC.

Independent political analyst,  Lesole Machacha also said it was not necessary to have term limits for MPs. He shared majority of views Morima advanced.

“Even in mature democracies voters enjoy the liberty to choose who they want as their representative in council or parliament. Political leaders should be voted on account of hard work and the way they serve the electorate,” he said.

On the proposed extension of the CC term, Machacha chose to be brief.

“If the five year term is introduced in good faith it is fine. It will not be ideal for the party to continue having situations where the party CC continue acting in a less transparent manner and without neutrality,” he said.

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