Automatic succession: is it really bad?

Analyses that seek to paint Botswana's automatic succession as totally undemocratic are shallow and could ultimately fail to bring the desired reforms within the conservative BDP.

There is need to depart from superficial criticism of Automatic succession. Automatic succession does not necessarily suggest the country is not democratic. It is quite clear Botswana has inherited the Westminster system where the party in majority ( not the whole country) chooses its President. As already mentioned, several countries had adopted this model, South Africa being an example. There is nothing wrong with some countries adopting British systems as opposed to American systems. What needs to be addressed however is the extent of powers that should be given to the president and some shortcomings inherent within the automatic succession set up. An example that comes to mind is how Gordon Brown (Finance Minister) usurped power from Tony Blair. Brown became the prime minister of Britain in a strange way-without a vote in either his party or the country. The British media labeled him 'Dictator Brown'. Already speculations are rife that Brown, a technocrat, may lead the labour party to defeat in the coming general elections. Another shortcoming arising out of automatic succession is that the leader may not be popular with the people. A leader who has not been elected by the people may struggle to control parliament and even the party.  BDP system is strange also. The president does not control the party. The party is controlled by the chairman of the party as it is the chairman that is popular within the party thus raising fears that the chairman may be more powerful than the president, more so that the president is not elected by the party.

Perhaps BDP needs to adopt a model similar to ANC where the race for presidency is open within the party. This model is more democratic and more practical as the chairman does not overshadow the president. However it should be acknowledged that the current BDP chairman stood unopposed in the recent BDP congress therefore has a mandate from the party and is popular within the party.  The biggest problem may arise 10 years from now where Botswana ends up in a situation similar to that of Britain , where the Minister of Finance ascends to power without a vote from either the party or the country. A strange situation indeed and hence a danger lurking somewhere as Botswana can end up with factional leaders not national leaders.

Editor's Comment
Happy Independence!

We are 56 years old and what do we have to show for it? Looking at where Botswana started and where it is today, there are a lot of developments, but whether the developments match the number of years we have enjoyed as a country is a topic for another day.The fact that cannot be denied is we have seen major developments, but we are still lacking in several pertinent areas.Our beautiful country imports almost everything. We import fuel, food,...

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