Saturday, January 23, 2021

Ms Tshireletso’s motion seeks to bend democracy to feed her ambitions

Ms Botlhogile Tshireletso’s motion to have the number of Specially Elected Members of Parliament raised from four to eight can at best be characterised as preposterous and self-serving.
As it is, our electoral system is so flawed as to be cockeyed and we can’t afford to add more negatives to it without risking the collapse of the whole structure.

Yet that is just what Ms Tshireletso wants parliament to do.

Special nominations provision has become a naked fraud on the voters, and to my surprise Ms Tshireletso has no problem with further expanding the frontiers and enhancing such unbridled fraud.

If the Mahalapye East member cares so passionately about Botswana women as she claims, she must work at changing the system that keeps women down, rather than suggesting cosmetic changes that will, in the long-term, prove unhelpful and counterproductive.

Truly speaking, her suggestions are akin to privatizing the outcome of elections, with only one person, the State President, going on to choose as much as 25% of the National Assembly.
The end result of it all (and I doubt Ms Tshireletso comprehends this) is that the ballot box, which is the integral component of an election process will lose its integrity and meaning.

If with just four MPs the provision is already proving such blight on our democracy what then will become of it with eight?

The provision dilutes as to totally erode the value of elections.
The provision takes away the power from the voters and gives it to private deal makers populating our political corridors of power.

It gives power to unelected and unaccountable people while further repressing and rendering irrelevant those parties that find themselves on the opposition benches ÔÇô for they are never the beneficiaries of the arrangement.

Special nominations are a bizarre form of democracy ÔÇô a free pass that confers power on an unelected army of individuals without ensuring that such power is accompanied by responsibility and accountability. Ms Tshireletso sees nothing wrong with that.

But there is another angle to it.
Ms Tshireletso has announced that she wants to become the BDP National Chairman.

And with the party Congress due in four months, her motives have clearly become tainted and contaminated.

She badly wants the women vote inside the BDP to become the party National Chairman, but does not have anything to offer that block vote in return.
The timing of the motion is designed to endear her to women inside the BDP as she tries to become the National Chairman of that party.

Hers is a self-seeking motion that will not do much to enhance the influence of women outsider her BDP.

None of this is to say that women in Botswana do not need to be uplifted as a specific group; or that women are sufficiently represented IN parliament.
All we are saying is that principle has totally very little to do with the motion.

As is so oft pointed out, women are a majority and they must stand up for themselves by using sustainable initiatives rather than demanding short-cuts, patronising sweeteners from their male counterparts.

For Ms Tshireletso to use the plight of Botswana women to launch her campaign inside the BDP reflects badly on her integrity as a leader and politician.
Tshireletso’s motion is, at the very least, preposterous, insincere and made out bad faith.

It is an example of just how the BDP, in its every manifestation, cares only about itself than enriching the system.
Where was Ms Tshireletso in 2004, when her BDP rejected a submission by the BNF to have Dr. Kathleen Letshabo appointed Specially Elected MP, going in on instead to appoint men like Botsalo Ntuane?

Or is Letshabo not woman enough in the eyes of Ms Tshireletso and her BDP?
Special nominations are already the most abused form of privilege in Botswana’s politics.

The list of past beneficiaries is a detailed story on its own.
Increasingly also, special nominations are used for political patronage, not only against opposition but also within the ruling party.

This is an affront on democracy ÔÇô an obscenity that should be abolished.
Before he was welcomed back into cabinet, PHK Kedikilwe had noticed a motion that effectively called on abolishing the provision for specially nominated councilors.

He had a point.
Personal experience had taught PHK that in closely contested factional bouts inside the BDP, specially nominated councilors (over a hundred of them) tended to become king-makers.

That is a weird form of democracy!
God help us if this motion passes; it will be used, not for the first time, to prop up the BDP’s fortunes in the face of a declining popular vote share at the polls.

Like everyone of us, Ms Tshireletso also knows that the BDP is not a tremendously healthy party. While her motion will directly benefit her in the short term, spin-offs will also reach the greater BDP later.

One other thing that is often overlooked is the simple fact that provision for Special MPs breeds unnecessary inter-party disharmony.
At Council level the BDP has used the provision to destabilize opposition by co-opting people that are not on the parties’ official lists.

Gaborone City Mayor Harry Mothei of the BNF is the most notable example. The BNF’s wounds from the man’s appointment have still not healed ÔÇô very much to the pleasure and fascination of the BDP
By whatever means, special nominations are unfair and unjust. We should do away with them.

Sadly, Ms Tshireletso, who has made known her ambitions to contest the BDP National Chairmanship position, wants to broaden the frontiers.

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