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Morwaeng assures MPs of October general elections

05 Jun 2024

Botswana’s electoral system is beyond reproach given that it has consistently delivered successful elections every five years, Minister for State President, Mr Kabo Morwaeng has said.

Responding to debates on the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2024, Mr Morwaeng pointed out that Botswana’s history attested to the country’s consistent record of holding elections every five years.

He said Batswana and politicians alike have not lost faith in the electoral system and have never complained about failed elections.

“Even this year, elections are coming this October, this is in the public domain, parties are aware although they have not received notifications, but they know elections will be held,” he stated.

He allayed fears that elections would not be held in October, especially given statutory provisions specifying that elections should be conducted within 60 days following the dissolution of Parliament.

Maun East MP, Mr Goretetse Kekgonegile, had proposed an amendment suggesting that the President, in consultation with the Secretary to the Electoral Commission and subject to the provisions of any relevant Act of Parliament, may appoint a date for the general election in October following the dissolution of Parliament.

Mr Kekgonegile underlined the importance of transparency, stating that it was crucial for everyone to know the date of the general elections following the dissolution of Parliament.

He argued that specifying the election date ensured fairness and levelled the playing field. “This should be in the Constitution, so that everyone knows that without fail, elections will be held in October. This will be fair and makes the playing field level for everyone,” he said.

Proposing a similar amendment, Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi, also moved that general elections should be held every last Friday of October.

When motivating his amendment, Mr Mmolotsi said it was important to specify the general election date in the constitution. He said certainty was important to allay fears that elections might be forfeited or complaints that President was unfairly keeping the election date to himself.

Supporting the amendments, MP for Selebi Phikwe West, Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse, said some countries with progressive democracies had specified general election dates in their constitutions.

He argued that within a five-year period, the President could call elections at any time because the Constitution was not clear on this matter.

“There must be certainty that elections will be held in October and if possible even the date should be specified so that a player who is also a contestant in the elections can call elections anytime he feels ready.

The constitution should commit to this, so that all players in elections are aware,” he said.

Mogoditshane MP, Mr Tumiso Rakgare, reaffirmed that elections were held every October. He said Botswana had successfully delivered elections every five years - in 1999 on October 16; 2004 on October 30; in 2009 on October 16; in 2014 on October 24 and in 2019 on October 23.

Therefore, he said it had been a trend that every five years in October, elections were held.

Supporting the amendment, MP for Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Dr Kesitegile  Gobotswang, said specifying the general elections date in the Constitution was important for posterity.

He stated that while most observers had deemed Botswana’s elections as free, they were not truly fair since the election date was information solely privy to one person.

Maun West MP, Mr Dumelang Saleshando also said certainty was important because Batswana should not be found ‘wanting’.

He said most election observers had always underscored the importance of specifying the general elections date, adding that since Botswana was party to the African Union standards, SADC Parliamentary Forum it should apply the standards.

“This is a total regression to democratisation,” he charged.

Mochudi West MP, Mr Mmusi Kgafela said although the amendment was an attractive preposition, it should not be passed because the Constitution was clear as to what happens following the dissolution of Parliament.

Mr Kgafela said elections were held 60 days after dissolution of Parliament, while the first sitting of national assembly was 30 days after election, hence it was still determinable even in the absence of a specified date.

Nkange legislator, Dr Never Tshabang was of the idea that the elections date was important lest the President was left to play cards closer to his chest, thereby disadvantaging other players. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Mmoniemang Motsamai

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 05 Jun 2024