Thursday, October 28, 2021

Opposition accost Masisi over election promises

Opposition parties plan to engage President Mokgweetsi Masisi over his 2019 political party funding promise.

In the lead up to the 2019 general elections, Masisi met all opposition leaders with a view to setting up an all party conference which will deal with all challenges affecting political parties.

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, has said Masisi has broken the promise of reviving the all party conference. 

He said in 2019 it was agreed that three things will be addressed which include the electoral act, the constitution and also the short, medium and long term issues.

“We had agreed that some of the short term issues we wanted addressed was the manner in which there is vote counting because we indicated that it will only be fair if votes could be counted at their respective polling station,” said Mohwasa.

“But then when we were supposed to meet at the time, we were told that the Minister responsible was not available, from there the meetings collapsed,” added the opposition political veteran.

Mohwasa stated that although they intend to pursue the matter, they are convinced that Masisi only used party political funding issue for political mileage.

“It was just a political gimmick just like other gimmicks he often pulls out, you will also recall that he long promised unions that there will be a bargaining council but nothing has happened to this day,” said Mohwasa.

For his part, Secretary General of the Alliance for Progressives Dr. Phenyo Butale said Masisi only used the party political funding idea to appease the voters adding that reality has now struck and no answers are being provided.

He further challenged Masisi to explain to the public on what happened about his promise to set up a fund in order to assist all parties to level the playing ground.

“What President Masisi did in the lead up to the 2019 general elections was just a political ploy to appease the electorates but here we are and approaching the second elections during his reign yet nothing has been communicated,” said Butale.

He further said they will follow up with the Ministry of the Presidency to understand whether there will ever be a fund to help political parties.

State funding of political parties in Botswana remains a contested issue and after 50 years of independence, a law providing for the funding of parties has not been enacted. This is in spite of the countless calls from stakeholders including civil society and opposition parties to provide for such a law to fund political parties in order to level electoral competition and enhance democracy. 

Opposition parties have decried the unfair advantages of incumbency enjoyed by the ruling party, lamenting that it is not in the interest of the BDP to support a law on state funding of political parties.

However, as debates continue on the need for state funding of parties, a recent survey by Afrobarometer indicates that almost two thirds of Batswana want political parties to be financed based on their performance in national elections.

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