Opposition Members of Parliament (MP) have condemned Vice President Ponatshego Kediklwe of abusing executive powers by postponing the Francistown West by-election to January 2014. Kedikilwe exercised the powers on Thursday, when he was the acting president. President Ian Khama was in South Africa on a State visit.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi, said it was unfair for the polling day to be postponed without engaging political parties which contested the elections. He said Botswana was sliding into a dictatorship as laws were trampled upon without regard for other people who had invested their resources in the elections.
“An announcement was made before the proclamation was published in the Government Gazette. The reasons advanced were that the people of Francistown West petitioned the president saying they were not unhappy with the decisions of the courts. The population of Francistown West is at 30 000, the number of registered voters in this constituency is at 11 000. We are told that only 2000 people petitioned the president, clearly this in percentage terms is a negligible number,” he said.
He said the postponement of the elections cannot be in the public interest because people who petitioned are members of the BDP.
Mmolotsi said Khama was setting a bad precedent by postponing the elections as it means that if in future opposition parties are not prepared to hold the elections, they may petition the president as the BDP has done.
He said the president’s decision promotes lawlessness and anarchy and may lead this country into a civil war.
“This was a selfish decision made to satisfy the greediness of the BDP. We are surprised that Khama who never attend international meetings had this time travelled to South Africa (SA) and gave orders to Kedikilwe to issue the proclamation,” he charged.
MP for Kanye North, Kentse Rammidi said Khama exercised his powers in bad faith. He wondered why Kedikilwe could not wait for the Court of Appeal (CoA) to hear the appeal by BDP before he could postpone the elections.
He said there have been instances where the opposition had problems in nominating a candidate for purposes of elections, but the elections proceeded without those parties.
He cited a case in Ramotswa, where Botswana National Front (BNF) candidate lost Omang card and his name could not be accepted by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) but nevertheless, the elections proceeded.
He also cited a case in Letlhaleng West, where the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate, Thuto Thuto, could not be nominated in the bye elections as his name did not appear in the voter’s roll but the elections also proceeded without the BCP represented.
MP for Chobe, Gibson Nshimwe, said that other candidates whose names have been accepted had spent considerable resources and this has an effect of prejudicing them. He said the BDP has a tendency to make their problems national problems.