A Catholic Priest, Father Akofang has suggested that political candidates be given counseling sessions before and after Elections Day. This was during a meeting held by faith based organizations and the Independent Electoral Commission.
“I suggest that there be a counseling session for both Council and Parliamentary candidates before elections day so that they can be psychologically and emotionally prepared for whatever outcomes of the elections. The same should be done after the elections,” Fr. Akofang said. He suggested that the candidates should organize themselves and set a suitable date for the sessions to be carried out.
“It is the responsibility of the church to ensure counseling and spiritual support is given to political candidates. I know of a couple in which the wife suffered heart attacks and related ailments following a by election campaign that left her family in huge debts,” said Dineo Ncube, one of the participants.
In response to their comments the IEC Principal Communications Officer Osupile Maroba said given circumstances that erupt after elections, the suggestion should be considered. He reminded participants that in Malawi a politician committed suicide when he heard that he lost after spending all his resources on the campaigns.
In an interview, Lesedi Mmusi, Gabane-Mmankgdi BDP candidate said counseling is necessary in the sense that people should know that electorates are the ones who make the final decision on the outcomes of the elections, so they should not burden themselves with their decisions.
“Counseling will help a lot. But with me I would not have problems with whatever would be the results once elections end,” he said.
But Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidate for the Letlhakeng- Lephephe constituency, Gordon Mokgwathi said counseling is subject to the candidate’s faith and belief. As someone who in his lifetime experienced both winning and losing of elections he says he has learnt not to be overwhelmed by excitement when winning and be disgruntled when losing.
Botswana Congress Party’s Taolo Lucas said counseling should be provided to those who need it. He said; “Some of us are used to losing elections. It is members of the BDP who will need counseling if they lose because they are used to winning. So losing elections is going to be devastating for them.”
A University of Botswana Social Sciences Lecturer, Log Raditlhokwa in an interview agreed with the religious leaders that counseling was essential.
“Counseling should not be for the candidates only, but it should include their families. The candidate’s spouses should be involved because family funds and other resources are going to be used in campaigns. Their children suffer emotionally when they lose as other children gag them for their loss,” Raditlhokwa said, adding that counseling should be done even after elections to both losers and winners. He said those who win should be counseled because there is a tendency for them to develop pride and disrespect the people they should represent. Losers develop anger that leads to hatred of winners. He said a politician once attempted suicide after a misunderstanding with his spouse who discouraged him to invest after he lost elections.