Gaborone - Botswana will hold its general election on 23 October, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has announced.
The announcement came after Masisi dissolved the parliament recently. While this marked the end of term for MPs, the President and his cabinet will continue to govern the country until a new one takes over after next month’s polls, in which about 900 000 citizens are expected to cast their votes.
the Southern African nation gears up for an unexpectedly competitive election just less than two months away that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is under pressure to retain power.
This follows a decision by former President Ian Khama to switch political sides and quit the party that his father and the country’s first President Sir Seretse Khama founded in the 1960s.
BDP has ruled Botswana for more than 50 years since the country gained independence from Britain in 1966. But the party’s monopoly on power is threatened after Khama, who fell out with his chosen successor President Masisi, announced that he would support the main opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change.
Khama, who is the patron of BDP’s offshoot, the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Change (BPF), has also vowed to rally behind independent candidates who are mainly former BDP members who lost in the party’s primary elections.
The former ruling party president has already started to hold rallies across the country launching UDC candidates. He has targeted the Central District which is the ruling party’s strong hold and the area is where he is still influential.
It still remains to be seen if Khama’s decision to fight from opposition’s corner will dislodge the BDP from power or not. Khama has since dismissed as hogwash accusations by some observers that he intends to rule from the grave.
To ensure full participation by eligible voters, President Masisi has said that the 23rd and 24th October would be declared paid public holidays to afford Batswana the opportunity to exercise their democratic right and vote their party of choice.
He called on Batswana to vote parties of their choice. The President has promised to leave office if under his watch the BDP performs badly at the polls.
According to Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, 57 National Assembly vacancies and 490 local government vacancies will be filled.
“Nomination of candidates shall be received on the 26th September, 2019 at the designated nomination centre of each constituency and polling district. Any poll that may be necessary shall be taken on the 23rd October 2019,” he said.
Registrar of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi, explained that in terms of the Presidential Elections (Supplementary Provisions) Act Cap.02:01 the nomination of candidates for the Office of President shall take place on the first Saturday following the expiry of 20 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly.
“The nomination of candidates for the Office of President shall therefore be handed to the returning officer at the High Court at Gaborone on 21st September 2019.All interested persons are advised to comply strictly with the legal requirements for the nomination of Presidential candidates as set out in the Presidential Elections,” he said.