Tuesday, January 18, 2022

BDP demand constitutional amendment to allow for more specially elected councillors

Following its dismal performance at the polls at council level, especially in Gaborone and surrounding areas, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wants Parliament to amend the Constitution to increase the number of Specially Elected councillors.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane, confirmed that he intends to move an urgent motion seeking a constitutional amendment to cater for the increase of Specially Elected councillors. An urgent motion is expected this week.

It has also emerged that Specially Elected councillors will be from the BDP. Expectations are that the opposition will get a small number or nothing at all.

The Telegraph understands that a number of BDP Parliamentary candidates and Council candidates who lost in the just ended elections will be nominated as Specially Elected councillors.

“Yes I will move an urgent motion to effect the new numbers of some of the district councils across the country. Some of the affected councils are Francistown and Ghanzi. So we will have to wait for the motion to be passed by Parliament and that is when I will release and publish the names of the nominated councillors rather than release the names piece meal,” said Tsogwane.

Asked what necessitated the motion to increase the number of Specially Elected councillors, Tsogwane said some of the reasons are that they want to cater for some people from marginalised groups.

He was, however, non-committal on reports that some of the Specially Elected councillors will be among those who lost elections at Parliamentary or council level.

“I wouldn’t say yes or no. In addition I would be prompting the information and going beyond the boundaries of the law. It is also not against the law to nominate candidates who lost during the elections,” he said.

The BDP has used the Specially Elected dispensation to destabilise the opposition by co-opting people that are not on the parties’ official lists.

Some of the names that keep cropping up are those of former Nata-Gweta MP Oliphant Mfa who lost in the just ended General Elections and BDP National Campaign Manager Alec Seametso. They are poised to join the Sowa Town Council.

BDP youth League President, Andy Boatile, is also expected to join the Francistown Council as a Specially Elected Council. Secretary of BDP Communication and International relations, Roseline Panzirah, is also said to be in the list of Specially Elected councillors.

In Molepolole, BDP’s Shabir Kablay who was defeated by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Arafat Khan is also on the list of Specially Elected Councillors.

Botswana Congress Party MP Bagalatia said Tsogwane informed him that the opposition should not expect anyone to be nominated for specially elected council seat.

“Their reasons are that the Botswana Democratic Party performed badly and they are under pressure to nominate their members,” he said.

In 2009, there were 33 specially elected councilors from the ruling party and only seven from the opposition.

“The ruling party should have a certain percentage and we in the opposition should also have a certain percentage,” said Arone.

UDC legislator Wynter Mmolotsi said once again BDP has used this platform to nominate their councilors.

“We are talking about individuals in the BDP either who lost elections or who are being rewarded for their loyalty in the party. I hope it is not true that in my area there are BDP candidates who were nominated because voters there have clearly shown that they are pro Umbrella,” he said.

Mmolotsi said he hoped it is not true that the minister has nominated the BDP youth League President Boatile in his constituency of Francistown South.

“If it is true then it will be a problem because this happened again in 2009. They nominated someone who does not live in this area, who knows nothing about this area. Now they want to do it again? It would even be worse because nobody knows him in this area,” said Mmolotsi.

In the past the Minister nominated specially elected councilors in constituencies guided by the party that convincingly won in that particular constituency.

“We have learnt that the BDP went all out to try and compensate for the loss they experienced in the general elections,” he said.

He added that they have always had problems with the criteria used to nominate specially elected councilors.

“Unfortunately I was supposed to bring a motion as a move to stop this specially elected thing. I am going to do that in this 11th parliament, I am going to bring a motion to put to a stop of the specially elected individuals both at the Parliamentary and council level,” he said.

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