An innocuous admission by the Botswana National Front (BNF) president Duma Boko that he has never voted in his adult life has set the cat among the pigeons in political circles, including the ruling party.
At least two political parties have raised serious doubt over Boko’s standing as leader of one of Botswana’s oldest parties following his admission that he has never voted in his adult life, saying that at the time there was no need.
The BNF president made the revelation to a popular weekly tabloid (The Voice) recently.
“It is quite shocking that we have a leader of a party who has never voted. Voting is as central to politics as praying is to Christians,” said the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesman Taolo Lucas. “If you get across a Christian who has never prayed then you know that Christian is a fake. The fact that we can have a leader of a party who has never voted goes to show the underdevelopment of our democracy. We need to get serious with our democracy.”
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general, Mpho Balopi, said Boko’s failure to vote in the past while he now expects to be voted for has compromised his political standing.
“You vote based on the policies and promises of a particular political candidate. By so doing, you are demonstrating that you are a leader in your own right by casting your vote. When you want to lead without exercising your democratic right how are you going to lead a group of people when you have never exercised that right at an individual level,” wonders Balopi.
Ironically, the Botswana Movement for democracy (BMD) blames the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for Boko’s personal choice not to vote when there was ample opportunity for him to do so. The BMD says Boko’s apathy to vote enhances the painful political frustrations that this country hosts.
“It goes to show that the BDP has continued to win not because of popular support but because the majority boycotted elections. The political landscape has been quite different and since it has been revolutionarised. I am content the majority of people, including the political activists and leaders, will be more inspired to vote as there is more reason to the vote than ever before. Such is another clear show of political frustration that we have been made to go through both as political leaders and ordinary Batswana,” says the BMD national spokesman Winfred Rasina.
But Lucas begs to differ with the BMD.
“Leaders encourage people to vote but if they do not vote themselves it does show their lack of commitment to democracy and the electoral process,” said Lucas.
Boko has failed to respond to Sunday Standard enquiries whether or not he does not think his leadership may be compromised by his revelation. The party spokesman, Moeti Mohwasa, was irritated when asked to state his party’s position regarding Boko’s lack of participation in the electoral process, saying the matter has had sufficient media coverage.