Opposition politicians have called for the abolishment of specially nominated councillors and parliamentarians because it only benefits the ruling party. This follows Local government Minister, Lebonaamang Mokalake’s recent appointment of 113 individuals to serve as nominated councillors in various district councils.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Botswana National Front spokesman, Moeti Mohwasa, said that his party, which was given six special nomination council seats, is totally against the practice.
“In its present state, this system only benefits the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. We are totally against this practise because it is being abused,” he said.
The BNF spin-doctor also questioned the criteria used in selecting specially nominated councillors, saying that the selection is questionable because it is not based on merit or any other grounds that have been forwarded in the past, among them increasing the representation of women and other marginalised members of the community.
Mohwasa’s counterpart from the Botswana Congress Party, Dumelang Saleshando, also expressed worry at the degree of dispropotionality in the nominations. He decried the fact that despite their popular vote in the last general election, only one person has been nominated from the BCP to serve as a specially elected councillor in Gaborone.
Saleshando said that the selection is, by and large, an attempt by the BDP to reverse the wishes of the electorate because election losers who were rejected at the polls are re-imposed through special nomination.
“This system is abused to reward friends and family members,” he said, citing the inclusion of Cecilia Mlazie, wife of former Chobe MP Duncan Mlazie and Gabriella Ridge, the wife of former Maun West MP Ronald Ridge.
Botswana People’s Party President Bernard Balikani also condemned the practice as undemocratic because it benefits election losers and friends of the ruling party.
“This system should be done away with because it is not only costly but it is meant to cater for election losers,” Balikani said.
For his part, Mokalake justified the nominations and defended the comparatively large number of nominated BDP members by saying that other political parties had not applied for their members to be nominated. He revealed that the number of specially elected councillors had been increased from 101 in 2004 to 113 this year to cater for women and the youth.
While Mokalake was hesitant to reveal how much the specially nominated councillors will cost the taxpayer, the total cost per month is estimated at close to P3 million. He also stated that he does not know most of the people he nominated.
In 2005 BDP MP and now cabinet minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, tabled a motion calling for the system to be scrapped as it had diverted from its intended purpose and instead been turned into a patronage exercise aimed at rewarding BDP activists.
When contacted for comment this week Kedikilwe stated that he still stands by his views, even though the motion was shelved.