Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mogae wraps BDP MPs and rejects electoral reforms

For the first time ever, President Festus Mogae has told his followers in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party that he is worried at the party?s declining share of the country?s popular vote.

Speaking at the party?s National Council, Mogae said the 52 percent garnered by his party in the last general election is a cause for concern.

?Our victory does not look so comfortable when one looks at the popular vote. We won around 52 percent of the popular vote thus leaving the opposition with 48 percent. This is a worrying picture,? said Mogae.

He said an analysis of the results shows that the BDP could be heading for a scenario where they would win an election in 2009 but ?actually lose a popular vote.?

Mogae said while he is gratified by the continuing factional reconciliation inside the BDP, he remains perturbed by emergence of rampant individualism among the BDP Members of Parliament.

?An MP cannot denigrate, ridicule, disparage, malign, vilify, revile and cast aspersions on the BDP Government and still expect the electorate to return the party to power.?

He said the belief that by so doing they are a fearless and defiant exception from the stupid BDP government is ?willful self-decent and delusion.?
?The temptation to play to the press gallery and opposition hordes must be resisted.?

Mogae was clearly talking about a group of BDP Members of Parliament led by Duke Lefhoko, Boyce Sebetela, Botsalo Ntuane, Keletso Rakhudu and Vista Moruti who have lately been very vocal against government from the parliament floor.

On electoral reforms, Mogae explicitly rejected almost all that have lately been suggested in the course of public debate.

He said the current First Past the Post system has served the country well and continues to deliver stable results.

He said proportional representation gives inordinate power to the party leadership through party lists, with minimal recourse to the will of the majority.

?In other words introducing PR would take away the power of rank and file democrats to determine their choice of candidate for national elections.?

He said another disadvantage of the PR is that it undermines a fundamental aspect of democratic culture in that it removes a representative from direct interaction with a constituency.

Speaking on the direct election of a State President, Mogae said the argument in favour is directly flawed.

He said even under the current system, the president is directly accountable in that they interact directly with the people through such fora as Kgotla meetings and parliament.

?We must also be mindful that a directly elected president will also be entitled to choose members of his government from outside parliament. Clearly, that is a lot of power concentrated in the hands of one individual.?

He said as a developing nation ?and without saying reform is not necessary, we must thrive to put more emphasis on changes that will enhance service delivery to the people.?

?It has also been demonstrated that a presidential system lends itself to a scenario where the majority party may not necessarily be the same party to which the president belongs. This creates a gridlock in governance with the president in constant opposition to the legislature and vice versa.?
On party funding, Mogae said as much as he kept an open mind, reform should never merely be to ?mimic? other countries.

He, however, said there is a genuine argument that without state funding, political parties may find themselves receiving ?ill gotten? money thereby finding themselves complicit in criminal activity.
?All these arguments are not without foundation,? said the president.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.