Just a few months before the general elections, the Director in the Department of Roads Transport and Safety (DRTS) Onalenna Sechele has told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the law regarding the branding of the vehicles stipulates that vehicles retain the original colours that they were registered with and if there is any change in the colour of the vehicle the owner has to alert the Department so that the details of the vehicles are changed.
Failing to do so is against the law, she said.
Responding to Member of Parliament for Palapye, Master Goya’s testimony that sometime before the 2009 general elections officers from DRTS forcefully removed his branding on some vehicles in the area saying the branding was against the law, Sechele said branding red a vehicle registered with a white colour makes it difficult for her Department to identify such a vehicle.
“Department of Road Transport and Safety is concerned with road safety both to the owner of the vehicle and the general public therefore any measures or action that will obstruct the driver is not allowed. For instance windscreen branding obscures visibility, and that is not allowed,” Sechele said.
She however added that her Department allows branding of any sort but it must be done procedurally within the parameters of the law.
“A vehicle that is identified in its chassis number and its registration number as white and suddenly is bearing other colours is obviously not true identity of such a vehicle,” she added emphasizing that the law is there for people to recognise it and maintain it.
Politicians said they are not aware of the law and it is the responsibility of the DRTS to advise the public well on time.
Member of Parliament for Bonnington South Botsalo Ntuane who has already branded 13 Kombis said he was not happy. “I have a problem with this common thing where Departments will wait for members of the public to do certain things and then start reacting. These Departments must be pro-active. It is not the politician’s fault to have branded the vehicles but rather DRTS fault to have not educated the public. We are on campaigns and we are continuing with our campaigns, we have invested in these brandings and it is too late for them,” Ntuane said.
Member of Parliament for Mochudi West under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ticket Gilbert Mangole said the fact of the matter is that campaign in Botswana is expensive and politicians will use any cheap means to sell themselves.
“These are just temporary stickers and after the elections we remove them. I personally do not see how a sticker can change the colour of the vehicle. There must be special dispensations for politicians because this thing is seasonal. It is a simple administrative issue that the government can issue a directive to waive the requirement for politicians,” he said.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Member of Parliament for Kanye North Kentse Rammidi said the Department must be flexible and allow politicians to sell themselves.
“Really the branding does not affect the car in any way because these are not permanent stickers. They are meant for a certain period, the election year and after elections the stickers are removed. This kind of branding is so helpful because it reminds the general public that it is an election year,” he said.