Opposition parties have voiced out their concerns over the Independent Electoral Commission’s decision to exclude political liaison committees in committees tasked with the demarcation of council wards.
The parties fear that the move to bar political parties in the Demarcation of Ward Committees, which is clouded in secrecy, could disadvantage opposition parties.
Political Liaison Committees, which used to comprise of political parties, were part of the demarcation committee before the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) barred them in the current demarcation of council wards that has already kick started.
The IEC has refuted such claims stating that such suspicions were baseless since the political parties are not accountable to IEC.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy Secretary General, Winter Mmolotsi, suspects that the move to bar political parties was influenced by government.
He held the view that the recent developments were targeted at disadvantaging opposition parties that had been sitting in the demarcation of the wards committees ever since the IEC was formed.
According to Mmolotsi, such move deviates from the traditional norm where political liaison committees from across the political divide were included in the demarcation of wards.
Mmolotsi suspects that the decision could have been from the high office because it was not clear who actually came out with a plan to bar political parties in the committees.
He said that the ruling party was likely to be favoured.
Another BMD Member, Gilbert Mangole, feared that the recent move could see more political activists from the ruling party being chosen to sit on the committee. He stated that the committee should still remain as it has been before.
Mangole was of the view that since they were not aware of the criteria used for appointing those who sit on the committee, there was a likelihood that the ruling party could favour itself.
In response, IEC Executive Secretary, Gabriel Seeletso, stated that it was deliberate move to include the political liaison committees in the committee. He explained that the decision was taken to include the political parties in 2002 since the commission was new.
“We wanted to leave it as it is because before the formation of IEC, political parties were part of the demarcation of ward committees. We have since moved forward because political parties are not accountable to me as the IEC chief,” added Seeletso.
He further stated that the current move to leave political parties out was meant to avoid appointing political activists in the committee, adding that political parties cannot be players and referees at the same time.
Seeletso stated that the political parties have been left out in the committees that have been chosen around the country. He indicated so far the non-partisan members have been appointed in the committees. He said those who have been appointed are representative from Bogosi, local authorities, Land Board, woman, youth and religious background.
So far, he said, the committee members have been appointed and they are currently consulting people around the country.