Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Khama urged to call fresh elections

With factional bickering deadlocked inside the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, some sections of the A-Team faction are reported to be lobbying President Ian Khama to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.
The strategy is designed to outflank Members of Parliament sympathetic to Barata Phathi.

The A-Team is worried that at the pace at which things are going, their rivals in the Barata Phathi faction are poised to cross the floor with parliamentary seats which they won only last year under the BDP ticket.

BDP Central Committee insiders say the idea of a snap election was first broached by former cabinet and now central committee member, Tebelelo Seretse.

It is alleged that at a central committee meeting held on Monday, following the Barata-Phathi summit in Mogoditshane, Seretse suggested to the BDP leadership that the only way to break the impasse was through fresh General Elections.

She is understood to have raised concern over the mandate of the six BDP MPs who have openly indicated that they sympathise with Barata-Phathi and are willing to part ways with the ruling party if the faction they belong to registers as a political party.

It is understood that Seretse is
concerned that if a new party is formed, MPs Botsalo Ntuane, Wynter Mmolotsi, Guma Moyo, Gilbert Mangole and Tawana Moremi could cross the floor with BDP seats.

More importantly, Seretse is worried that the demands put forward by Barata-Phathi were rendering the country ungovernable.

Other members of the Central Committee agree with Seretse, especially because there is a strong feeling that the “dissident” MPs do not have a mandate from their constituents on the issues they are making demands on.

Barata Phathi has, among others, demanded the abolishment of the impending alcohol levy, a law on declaration of assets by MPs, ministers and the President, investigation into allegations of corruption by members of the executive, and expediting investigation and possible prosecution of those implicated in the spate of extra judicial killings.

In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Seretse declined to be drawn into discussing the standoff between the party leadership and Barata-Phathi with the press.

She nevertheless stated that she was not in a position to confirm or deny whether she lobbied for parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections called in light of the tussle between the party leadership and Barata-Phathi faction.

“Central committee meetings are confidential,” said Seretse, before she referred this paper to the party’s executive secretary, Batlang Serema.
However, in a separate interview, Serema dismissed reports that Seretse has lobbied for parliament to be dissolved.

“Nothing like that was ever discussed at the central committee meeting,” stated Serema.

Writing in The Sunday Standard this week, University of Botswana academic, Dr Zibani Maundeni, predicts in an opinion piece that the ruling party could call a snap election to prevent Barata-Phathi MPs from forming a coalition government with the opposition.

Meanwhile, the BDP central committee meets on Monday with ex-President Ketumile Masire to listen to his pleadings on his efforts to reconcile the clash between the party leadership and Barata-Phathi.

The party has suspended its move to take disciplinary action against those who attended the BDP summit.

However, the reconciliation effort by Masire is not expected to bring any positive results for the party since many believe Barata-Phathi are resolute in their decision to form a party, especially in light of the fact that the party leadership has already made it clear that their demands are “outrageous and untenable.”

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.