The Central Committee of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party is expected to overrule the Chairman of the party Electoral Board who had said serving public officers wishing to contest primary elections would have to resign from service by January 31st if they are to be considered eligible in the party’s primary elections.
The Electoral Board has set end of January as a deadline for potential candidates to have applied with the sub-committee, expressing interest to contest the party primary elections which are due in October.
An announcement that serving public officers will have to resign first was made by the BDP Electoral Board Chairman, Parks Tafa, last week and it has visibly rubbed many people the wrong way.
There is a good number of serving senior civil servants wanting to contest BDP primaries, but who feel that Tafa’s announcement to resign now or be disqualified would cost them.
Some of them are required to serve notice as long as six months while others need to get a clearance from the State President before they could leave their positions because they are political appointees directly appointed by the Head of State.
As early as this week, some of them had already started making a beeline into President Ian Khama’s office, to protest and parley with him to reverse Tafa’s announcement.
Speaking in confidence, one of them told Sunday Standard that Khama listened to their concerns with kindness.
“Many of these people are the ones with skills and experience that the President currently lacks in his cabinet. It was natural that he would in the end want them to be given a chance,” said one of them.
As of Friday, a good number of them had already put forward their applications with the Electoral Board. They are not expected to resign ahead of the January 31st deadline.
“It is not Tafa’s call to tell people when to resign. Many people have put in their names; others are still winding up by way of serving their notices. And if they are pushed to resign with immediate effect as is now being implied many would forego their benefits and that cannot be allowed. The important thing to note is that this deadline thing is not in the rules. More importantly, the Central Committee, which decides on such matters, has never made such an announcement. What we have is a sub-committee that is going beyond is powers,” said another serving civil servant who wants to contest the BDP primaries.
A lawyer who has close ties with the BDP said if people are told when to resign it may end up contravening the Constitution of the Republic which is the supreme law.
“In any case BDP primaries start with the vetting process. If the Electoral Board rules are to be followed we may end up circumventing other people who are just as deserving,” he said.