Botswana, a tiny landlocked country north of South Africa, held an election over the weekend. The result was a victory for the incumbent, the Botswana Democratic Party, but by the narrowest margin in the country’s electoral history. It was an alarming campaign. As Amy Poteete points out at The Washington Post, the run-up to the election featured some extremely ugly politics, including the death of an opposition politician under mysterious circumstances and the alleged kidnapping and torture of others by the security apparatus. One journalist fearing for his life fled to South Africa, and his editor was charged with sedition. Nevertheless, the election itself appears to have been free of overt fraud. To folks unfamiliar with the region, all this may seem like typical African politics. But Botswana has always been the great exception to the rule. It is the only country in the entire continent to have had free and fair elections since the end of colonial rule. But it seems even Botswana is now dealing with the same sort of postcolonial troubles that have afflicted most other African nations.
Botswana’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secured 33 of 57 parliament seats in national elections, initial results showed, putting President Ian Khama at the helm for a second five-year term. Residents of the southern African nation, who voted on Friday, re-elected the BDP party that has ruled the diamond-producing country since independence from Britain 48 years ago. Provisional results show the BDP’s main rival, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), with 14 seats and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with two seats. Eight seats were yet to be declared. This will be Botswana’s most closely contested election, and is likely to see the BDP’s majority sharply reduced from the 79 percent of seats it won in the 2009 election.
Editorials: Does Botswana deserve its reputation as a stable democracy? | Amy Poteete/The Washington Post
Botswana has a reputation for political stability, democracy, sound economic management and good governance. This opinion is widely shared — by foreign governments, international financial institutions, organizations such as Freedom House and Transparency International, and even academics. Developments in the run-up to the Oct. 24 elections have revealed a significant gap between Botswana’s reputation and reality. The campaign took a tasty turn at the end of July, when charismatic opposition politician Gomolemo Motswaledi died in a suspicious automobile accident. In September, another opposition politician was abandoned for dead in a ditch but survived; he claims to have been kidnapped and tortured by agents of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services. Other opposition politicians and activists complain about threatening phone calls and being followed. Some have been attacked but got away while others have moved to protect themselves.
Two major parties contesting Botswana’s upcoming general elections held their final rallies Saturday ahead of what is expected to be the most competitive election since independence from Britain in 1966. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Ian Khama, faces its first test with voters after a split in 2010 led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Khama, a former army commander and the son of the country’s first president, Seretse Khama, has been in power since 2008 and made it clear at a rally in the capital Gaborone that he would run on his record in the October 24 poll. “If you want to move forward, vote for the BDP and if you want to move backwards vote for the opposition parties,” Khama said to thunderous applause from several thousand supporters.
Two major parties contesting Botswana’s upcoming general elections held their final rallies Saturday ahead of what is expected to be the most competitive election since independence from Britain in 1966. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Ian Khama, faces its first test with voters after a split in 2010 led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Khama, a former army commander and the son of the country’s first president, Seretse Khama, has been in power since 2008 and made it clear at a rally in the capital Gaborone that he would run on his record in the October 24 poll.
Following the lapse of the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) deadline for expression of interest to hold public office yesterday, the party remains tight-lipped on the list of candidates for the primaries. BDP executive secretary Thabo Masalila confirmed yesterday that a huge number of members have shown interest in contesting in the party primaries, but would not reveal the candidates. “At the moment we can’t confirm who is who. It’s confidential. There are many files and many more letters are pouring in,” he said. He stated that the list would be passed on to the central committee, which will assess it and release the names to the public, as the date for primaries approaches. He added that the outcome of the delimitation commission would have an impact on the primaries.
A Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee meeting on Monday resolved to create a framework for the 2014 general elections, Mmegi is informed. In an interview yesterday, the Secretary General of the BDP, Kentse Rammidi, said they met with sub-committees about galvanising the party faithful into the right mood for the elections.
Regarding tactics to fend off the force of a combined opposition after four parties recently announced the formation of a united front for the next elections, Rammidi said the BDP was not threatened by the development. His party was far ahead because while the opposition were still working on an umbrella model for the 2014 elections, “we are intact and are simply preparing for the elections”, he said.
The Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) has said it supports the opposition cooperation involving the BNF, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), but warned that the parties should be cautious to ensure the project succeeds.
In a report to the just ended BNF conference held in Tsabong, which has been leaked to The Monitor, BNFYL president Kagiso Ntime, who read it, told the BNF faithful his league, gives a thumbs-up to the opposition cooperation project, also indicating that it has been a few steps ahead of the mother body in that it worked in concert with other opposition parties’ youth leagues and even sponsored a resolution at the BNF congress in Mochudi last year calling for cooperation talks with other parties.
BDP Regional Secretary Baemedi Kudumane said they expect thousands of delegates from around and outside the country
“We expect up to 3, 000 delegates and people from all the 57 constituencies. Also we have representatives from SWAPO (South West People’s Organisation) from Namibia, Zimbabwe African Nation Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) invited to the congress.