The thorny issue of special nominations of council and parliamentary candidates reached a crescendo last week when it was dovetailed with calls for a constitutional review, as Botswana Democratic Party Members of Parliament squared off in parliament chambers.
Kweneng South East Member of Parliament, Mmoloki Raletobana, who is also affiliated to the Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe faction of the BDP, last week heightened calls for the review of the national constitution when he accused local government minister, Lebonaamang Mokalake, of flouting the rules governing the nomination of councilors.
An irate Raletobana shocked his BDP counterparts when he called for Mokalake’s immediate resignation, accusing him of abusing his authority as local government minister and nominating his cronies to the council chambers.
In the wake of the October general elections, the BDP’s factional wars were heightened once again when Mokalake announced the names of specially elected councilors, with accusations flying thick and fast that the minister, who is associated with the A-team, had once again outsmarted the rival barata-phathi by nominating A-team affiliates as councilors.
Raletobana once again reignited the BDP’s factional wars when he accused Mokalake of nominating councilors whom the MPs had not recommended, thereby sparking acrimony and disgruntlement among the BDP operatives in the constituency.
“I could make sense of the architecture of this piece of legislation (specially elected councilors) when it was designed. But its noble initiative has been abused and sadly trampled upon by those in authority to alienate others,” charged Raletobana.
“The minister responsible for the nominations disregarded the noble exercise displayed and initiated by our fore-leaders, electing his own team of friends as specially elected councilors. The recent nominations by the minister were biased and premised on factional wars rather than on the democratic ideals enshrined in the constitution that we so much like to voice and proudly uphold to the world. Against this backdrop I call for the immediate resignation of the minister for abusing the power bestowed upon him by our noble constitution,” Raletobana thundered.
He lamented the fact that while MPs were charged with the responsibility of recommending candidates for nomination, apparently with the collective input of the constituents, the minister responsible chose to disregard their recommendations and nominated his cronies instead.
“I can now see that this was a bluff designed to lull some of us into thinking that democracy is in practice. The specially elected councilors were forced upon us. In the face of such unfairness, I would like to call upon the president to take action against the perpetrators. If he stays mum, his image and the good name of this country will be greatly discredited, for we will then suspect that he is also involved in this malady,” said Raletobana.
Calls for a constitutional review have been becoming more audible of late, surprisingly led by the ruling BDP’s barata-phathi foot soldiers, marshaled by Botsalo Ntuane. The calls intensified after the spectacular duel between barata-bathi lieutenant and deposed BDP secretary general Gomolemo Motswaledi and President Ian Khama, which culminated in the landmark high court ruling that the president is beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.
Opposition parties have also called for a constitutional review, arguing that the issue of special nominations is an anomaly that the ruling BDP manipulates to its own advantage. The changes the legislators would like see revisited include, among others, the presidential immunity and the indirect election of the president.
While Raletobana won the Kweneng South East constituency convincingly, his gains were reportedly reversed when A-team sympathizers were nominated as councilors in his constituency.
Apparently he had wanted his preferred faction sympathizers, with whom he has cordial working relations.
When contributing to the President’s state of the nation address, barata-phathi head honchos, among them Botsalo Ntuane, Wynter Mmolotsi, Daniel Kwelagobe and Guma Moyo, all punched holes in the constitution, summarily calling for its review.