Our vetting processes make primary elections a gamble!

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 30 August 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
Our vetting processes make primary elections a gamble!

We are still as a country failing to sort out the main point of our lack of expertise at the Government enclave. I discussed here a few weeks back that the problem of having to move around old furniture in cabinet hoping for a better outlook shall remain with us for as long as we do not revisit the Constitution to allow the Head of State to appoint cabinet outside Parliament. I have discussed that, though the law does not prohibit the Head of State from appointing Members of Parliament from the opposition into Cabinet, it has become the tradition and culture of Botswana politics that only members of a ruling party can make it into cabinet. This is an anomaly that continues to cost us heavily. We are often faced with unqualified people occupying Cabinet positions; people who should in a normal set up, be occupying positions at their Village Development Committees (VDCs).


This sad set up also ensures that capable and literate Members of Parliament in the opposition ranks such as Ndaba Gaolathe, Dithapelo Keorapetse, Phenyo Butale, Duma Boko etcetera have to simply be observers of national governance than participants. We all know that the current set up simply does not recognise them as meaningful leaders. The same system confers on the ruling Members of Parliament an opportunity to be appointed to Cabinet. This might be one of the reasons why the numerically strong ruling party Members of Parliament are not in any way showing any signs of interest in changing this trend. They are in the same accord appearing comfortable with the law that prohibits the state president to appoint members of cabinet from outside parliament because that will mean most of them will not make it into cabinet. Most of them, simply do not meet the cut.


In the event that our Parliament continues to fail to bring to the debates the constitutional clause that allows the state President to appoint Cabinet outside parliament, political parties vying for national elections should at the very most ensure that the vetting processes, particularly for Members of Parliament is improved. Consideration must include the literacy aspect of those willing to contest. We can’t hide our heads in the sand anymore and hope that God will provide us with capable leadership when God has already provided us with the amenities and resources to educate our people. The country can safely be said to be literate yet its Government leadership remains poorly equipped to think, read, analyse and appreciate basic facts. This is simply because we continue to vote clowns into power, for these clowns are provided by our primary elections’ processes.


I have argued before that the road to political office is riddled with unpalatable experiences. The insults are a daily affair. There is no logical debate. It is either about who is providing more money, alcohol and food hampers than who is able to govern the country, or it is about who is more loyal to the powers that be. In many instances, as I have said before, sexual appetite has also found a way into being a deciding factor on who governs the elections. Sad and painful as this might sound, it is that which we see and experience every day. I have said before that not talking about it shall not make the anomaly go away. This is a problem because the empty heads are good at insults and shouting that they are able to scare away the capable leaders. We can thus insulate the capable leaders from the insults by simply putting in place vetting processes across all political parties that require a particular set of governance rules.

Otherwise we all know from primary school lessons that an empty can makes a lot of noise. And most of the time, the empty cans are nothing else but rascals, troublemakers of repute, those who deviate from what should and must be discussed and opt to create some form of heaven in important positions of power. This is what we are grappling with as a nation. We are filling the National Assembly and subsequently, Cabinet, the executive with people who are not skilled enough to lead. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has at one point towards national elections issued out a clear position, a kitchen cabinet, to say to the voter that; if you elect us, this will be your cabinet. That is what is needed. All parties must be able to do that. But that is not enough when the vetting at primary elections is left to chance. Well, when it is left to who provides more alcohol, sex and food hampers.

Those who are allowed to contest for parliamentary positions must be equally capable of being appointed to Cabinet Ministers. That way we will have not to reshuffle cabinet every time we get into a crisis. Besides, the current set up, well, the current cabinet, is a crisis itself and there is no how we cannot be in a daily crisis when the national leaders are cushioned by our constitution, our political traditions and history to be a perennial crisis themselves. You just have to look into who has made it into the current cabinet to understand my frustration. I do not need to mention names. That the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as a ruling party has had to always bring in through a special nomination, someone from outside for purposes of being made a Finance Minister, is a clear sign that the BDP goes into elections knowing that they do not have anyone amongst their candidates suited to be a finance minister. This then says a lot about their continual vetting process, that it is unable to produce capable leaders. This thus simply presents a scenario that their vetting process is nothing else but a shame, not only to the BDP but to the entire nation.
But this shameful process is not only done by the ruling party.

The opposition has some kind of Members of Parliament whom except from passing jokes at their rallies and later in the National Assembly do not say anything on any issue of national interest. It is not that they are not interested or they do not want to. It is because they are literally empty. Their only contribution is through a vote on a matter that they do not even understand. Their pettiness is beyond measurer. I will not be able to name them, but you all know them. They are not wrong, they have been allowed by our vetting processes to be sitting there and earning a living on the pretext that they are representing the voter whilst they are purely incapable. If this is not a pure true definition of fraud, then I do not know the meaning of fraud!  Hence my point that there are three ways outside this gruesome equation.

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We can as a country revisit the constitution to allow for the appointment of Cabinet Members outside Parliament as we seem comfortable with clowns we continually send to Parliament, though they do not make the cut to be Cabinet Ministers. We also as a nation have an option of pleading with the ruling party to debate amongst themselves on a need to appoint capable members of the opposition to Cabinet. This is in the event that, the clowns we call Members of Parliament do not see a need to bring a bill that changes the clause that allows the state President from electing Cabinet Members outside the National Assembly. We then as a third option, in the event of the two above suggestions not being acceptable, have to ensure that our vetting processes are bringing in candidates who can after being elected Members of Parliament be appointed as Cabinet members. Otherwise we are just mocking ourselves.

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