- Says COVID-19 is no excuse for not holding bye-elections
- Warns gov’t against postponing 2024 general elections
Botswana People’s Party (BPP) has challenged government to hold council bye-elections.
BPP president Motlatsi Molapisi said the reluctance to hold council bye-elections is an indication that the BDP-led government is bound to face rejection from voters based on mismanagement of COVID-19 affairs.
IEC Acting Chief Public Relations Officer, Idah Seoforeng, told The Gazette that council bye-elections have now increased to 11 and that IEC always remains ready to hold elections, should they be declared.
Seoforeng said vacant council bye-elections are in Pitsane-Molopo, Khwee, Tumasera-Seleka, Motlokwe-Tsetseng, Lentsweletau West, Tamasane, Nkange North, Moshupa East, Lerolwane, Metsimotlhabe, and Boseja South.
Molapisi said there is growing frustration among Batswana as many have lost their jobs while some continue to lose relatives owing to a failed campaign by the to vaccinate them.
“The BDP-led government is hiding behind the state of emergency because they know very well that Batswana are frustrated,” he said. “We are not saying there is no COVID-19; all we are saying is that so many countries have held safe elections.”
There is an opportunity for the IEC to embark on a benchmarking exercise to countries that have successfully held elections in the midst of the virus, he pointed out. “Communities have lost their council representation and there is no good reason why many countries with bigger populations than Botswana’s were able to deliver successful elections while we are unable to hold ward elections,” Molapisi said.
“The BDP-led government has failed this country and it is not even a surprise that they now find themselves trying to buy time by stalling the bye elections,” he stressed. “Eventually the winds of change will catch up with them.”
He added that the way government is handling the virus, holding the 2024 general elections are in doubt as the government is may argue that the virus has worsened. “Batswana are still waiting for the vaccines and there are no indications that they will be vaccinated soon,” he said. “Clearly this is another strategy by the BDP-led government to dismiss the possibility of holding elections.”
The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse, said due to the increasing rate of COVID-19 infections, the government will not risk people’s lives by calling for council bye-elections. “We would be irresponsible to hold bye-elections during such a time when infections are rising every day,” Autlwetse said. “Batswana can also see that situation has worsened.” He further said bye elections will only encourage political parties to gather people hence putting their lives at risk.
Opposition parties recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to back one candidate against the BDP.