Mystery surrounds the nomination of BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane and BCP president Dumelang Saleshando for election as specially elected MPs on Thursday, after the ruling party and opposition denied involvement. BDP Chairperson Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday distanced his party from Ntuane’s nomination. “We wish to indicate that on Tuesday our parliamentary caucus met at which the BDP resolved on the name of Eric Molale as its nominee.
It must be noted that Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane was in attendance. At no point did he express interest in being nominated nor did colleagues propose his name,” said Masisi, claiming that Ntuane’s name was nominated by an opposition legislator. Three days after President Ian Khama made promises of good governance and respect for the rule of law by his government during the State of the Nation address, opposition MPs cried foul and accused the ruling party of defiling every little piece left of the country’s democracy.
Opposition MPs, save for two, abstained from voting following the decision by the ruling party to field Eric Molale and nominate two other candidates despite objections from the opposition. Molale’s name was submitted for nomination by President Ian Khama while the leader of Opposition Duma Boko nominated Shadikong Matshidiso. Eric Molale was re-elected into parliament after being voted by a total of 30 MPs. The vacancy was created when Molale resigned his Specially Elected seat in July to run for the Goodhope/Mabule constituency where he was defeated by Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II. Dumelang Saleshando and Shadikong Matshidiso got two votes each while Botsalo Ntuane did not get even a single vote while two were spoiled.
As per parliament standing orders individual members of parliament were then given a chance to nominate a candidate of their choice and that is when two new names emerged; that of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane. All hell broke loose then as opposition MPs demanded to know who nominated the latter two names and whether their nomination was legal. “We in the opposition had requested to be informed by the Speaker about the procedure used to nominate the two candidates and because she failed to do so, we believe the process was flawed," Boko told this publication.
According to Boko consent should have been sought from the nominees first before their names could be submitted for nomination. Although several MPs from the opposition rank had also sought clarification from the Speaker, questioning whether it was not suitable for the house to seek consent from the nominees, the Speaker of the national assembly Gladys Kokorwe ignored their plight. After conferring with the Parliamentary Counsel, the speaker explained that the law was silent on the matter and therefore she chose not to reveal the names of those who nominated the two and chose not to consult them about it.
Responding to the Speaker’s explanation Kgosi Tawana Moremi remarked that it was unfair of the speaker to maintain that those nominated without consent were just fine arguing that they have rights as individuals and they should be afforded the chance to either accept or decline the nomination. “It is even unfair in the current situation where the results of the elections seems to be predetermined, hence the reason to nominate them might be just to humiliate them,” Kgosi Tawana said.
Masisi also echoed objections by opposition MPs in parliament, that Ntuane’s nomination was made without his consent nor reference to him. He then accused opposition MPs of trying to sow discord within BDP ranks in the mistaken belief that it will work in their favour. He said the fact that Ntuane received zero votes is proof that BDP MPs stuck to their guns and voted for Molale as agreed to at the party caucus. “This explains why Rre Ntuane did not receive votes from BDP because he was not the official candidate. In any case it was clear to us from the onset that the opposition was up to mischievous antics,” he said.
BCP's Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse also expressed disappointment and disdain at the decision taken by the Speaker and the Parliamentary Counsel and their explanation. “This was not about what the Speaker wanted to do but about the principle of the elections itself. This was a big fraud, I've lost respect for the Speaker, she is not doing a good job and I doubt the competency of the Parliamentary Counsel too,” he said.
Keorapetse argued that in any elections be it of a debating club, VDC and SRC, consent of a person nominated is required hence he questions why a more serious position of MP be different. According to Keorapetse the reason why the Speaker refused to tell parliament, who nominated Ntuane and Saleshando was for the simple reason that, the two were nominated by BDP MPs. “Yes, Dumelang Saleshando’s nomination did not come from the opposition but from the BDP, that we can confirm,” Boko told this publication.
Keorapetse explained that a senior member of the BCP who sits in the party’s central committee he was privy to what is discussed in the party and its position. “ I therefore know that Saleshando is not interested in the position and would not have consented. The Speaker didn't allow us to state for the record that Dumelang Saleshando didn't consent to a nomination for Specially Elected MP. She closed us out,” he said.
The youthful legislator blamed the flawed procedure on the speaker and the Parliamentary Counsel for failing to advise the house accordingly. He therefore said he (PC) must be relieved of his duties as he has failed parliament dismally. “ This constant failure to protect the integrity of parliament by the speaker and the PC will end up in fist fights sooner or later,” he said. Meanwhile the Leader of opposition said that though unfortunate, the incident does not come as a surprise or shock to them. “The BDP did what it is renowned for; subverting all the processes of democracy,” he said.
For his part political commentator Anthony Morima said the issue is a difficult one especially that both camps may have had a hand in the mysterious nominations. He observed that the fact that the law is not clear on whether the names of people who made the nominations should be made public makes it even more complicated. “It is sad that now individuals are taking advantage of this grey area,” he said.
He also agreed that the nominees deserved a chance to be informed and indicate if they consent to the nominations. “That is the proper way of doing things, especially in politics where it can be interpreted wrongly and end up having serious implications on one’ s political future,” he said.