Political party funding critical for democracy

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 03 September 2019   |   By Tebogo Mmolawa
Olopeng [L] and Masisi greeting residents of Tonota Olopeng [L] and Masisi greeting residents of Tonota

Political analyst, Lenard Sesa says political playing field has not been level in Botswana  because there is no political party funding, stating further that the issue of the introduction of political party funding is an old song. Sesa argues that opposition parties have now started to think outside the box and resorted to seek financial sponsorship from foreigners so that they can compete with the ruling party which is well resourced. “The BDP has not been supporting the introduction of political party funding because the current status co is favouring them. I don’t think the BDP will advocate for the introduction of political party funding anytime soon because the current arrangement is favouring them,” Sesa observed in his analysis.

According to Sesa, it is the responsibility of the opposition parties especially the UDC to ensure that their foreign sponsors are clean adding that the ruling party might put the opposition sponsors under the prohibited immigrants list as a way of frustrating them.


The age old debate about political party funding was revived after President Mokgweetsi Masisi warned Batswana against voting opposition parties into power at the looming general elections, saying once they gain power they will sell the country to their dubious foreign sponsors. Launching the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for Tonota constituency, Thapelo Olopeng and his council candidates last weekend, Masisi told multitudes of BDP activists that opposition leaders are currently traversing the globe soliciting financial support from foreigners some of whom are involved in questionable business dealings. “Most of the people who are sponsoring the opposition’s campaign trail are eyeing the country’s rich mineral resources to enrich themselves so I urge you not to vote the opposition at the upcoming general elections,” he pointed out amid ululations from the crowd. The head of state went on to say that some of the sponsors of the opposition are involved in shoddy business dealings and therefore they might loot the country’s resources once the opposition gains power. Masisi expressed fear that if the opposition gains power they will deplete the country’s foreign reserves and hence crippling the economy.

He urged Batswana to continue to vote the BDP because the party has a good record since it gained power more than 50 years ago. “BDP has been in power thus far because it has been ruling the country through consultation and it has never made empty promises to the nation. This party is a liberation movement that did not bear arms so I plead with you to vote BDP once again,” he further held.


However, Sesa dismissed claims by Masisi that the opposition will sell the country once they gain power insisting that such statements are meant to discredit opposition parties ahead of the much anticipated general elections. “Such statements are very unfair to opposition parties because they are still aspiring to rule as compared to the ruling BDP which has been in power for more than five decades,” he pointed.

Another political analyst, University of Botswana Senior Lecturer in politics, Dr Kebapetse Letshwao held that there is context to what Masisi said with respect to the opposition selling the country. He added, “His utterances are provoked by reports that the UDC campaigns are funded by some business people outside the country. If the BDP also receives funding from dubious people, that is also wrong and it should be condemned,” he buttressed. Letshwao cited that it is however too simplistic for UDC to do something because the BDP also does it. According to Letshwao, as an alternative party, the UDC must do things differently from BDP. The UB academic held that if the UDC copy the BDP, then there is no difference between the two political formations, as such voting them into power would not bring radical change in the ways things have been done. 

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