The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officers last week warned politicians that anyone who failed to account for their campaign expenses would be barred from sitting in Parliament or Councils.
For the first time in the history of Botswana, the IEC will enforce the P50 000 campaign expenses ceiling on politicians, and those who exceed the threshold will be punished.
The IEC last week gathered political candidates, police and returning officers at Tlotlo Conference Centre to discuss among other things accounting for campaign expenses.
This refers to money expended for the conduct and management of elections by candidates after the issuance of a Writ of elections.
Principal Elections Officer in Mogoditshane, Khumo Lebang, explained that requirements of the Electoral Act are that ‘Every candidate of an election is required to render a report of his/her election expenses in the form prescribed by the Secretary within 90 days after release of electoral results showing; all paid expenses; unpaid and undisputed expenses, disputed expenses as well as source of his/her expenses.
“Successful candidates who have not submitted returns are guilty of illegal practice and shall not be allowed to sit or vote in Parliament/ Council until they submit or date of condoning order. At the elapse of 90 days the Returning Officer must report to the Attorney General candidates who have not submitted returns,”
The returns shall remain in the custody of the Retuning Officers for six months from the date of receipt, whereupon any person may inspect them and make copies for P20 per return,” explained Lebang, adding that at the expiry of six months, the Returning Officer may destroy the return or hand them back to the person who rendered it if they wish to have it back. He highlighted that candidates should not exceed P50 000.
He said if a political party is sponsoring then funds should be divided among candidates so that they each end up with P50 000 expenses to report on.
He further cautioned that the statute have been in place but has never been implemented such that politicians were punished but this year the IEC will go that far. Candidates who win should know it in advance that the rule of law should be respected. Without submitted returns they will not debate in respective chambers –council and parliament.
In response candidates complained that the P50 000 is far too little an amount for campaigns. They said the amount shows that instrument is old and has been overtaken by events.
The half day workshop attracted participants from Gabane-Mankgodi, Mogoditshane and Thamaga-Kumakwane constituencies.