Gaborone - Election fever is touching new highs each day in Botswana as the polling date for the first phase of general elections has been set as 12 October.
The Independent Electoral Commission has set dates for the diaspora and election officers and police officers. Batswana living outside the country will vote at all designated external polling stations on 12 October 2019.
Elections officers and police officers who will be on duty at polling stations on polling day will vote on 19 October 2019 at constituency headquarters. Botswana will hold general elections on 23 October.
Meanwhile in an interesting development, a voter in the diaspora would be allowed to vote for both council and parliamentary candidates. Historically, voters based outside the country are allowed to vote for only parliamentary candidates.
High Court Judge Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa has ordered that the IEC should allow and facilitate for Bakotelo Mmipi to vote for council and parliamentary candidates of his choice in London, the United Kingdom.
Mmipi had taken the IEC and its secretary to court on an urgent application for declining to allow him to vote for a council candidate after he transferred his polling station from Lerala-Maunatlala in the central part of Botswana to the UK.
Following the filing of candidacy nominations by parliamentary and council candidates at their respective constituencies or designated nomination centres of their polling districts, political parties are campaigning furiously.
The situation was heightened recently by former President Ian Khama’s brother Tshekedi Khama’s decision to resign from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to join the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front(BPF).
BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi described the latest development as unfortunate but said his party wished Tshekedi Khama “well in his future endeavours”.
Khama, who was the Minister of Sports, also quit his ministerial position ending speculation and confirming allegations by Ian Khama that he was working on ensuring that his brother joins BPF. Khama is the patron of the new party. The decision by the Khama brothers to quit the party that their late father and first President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, founded in the 1960s is expected to hurt the BDP.
Khama has also called on voters to ditch the BDP in favour of opposition coalition; the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Duma Boko. The coalition comprises of three parties: the Botswana National Front (BNF) led by Boko himself, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) led by Dumelang Saleshando and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) led by Motlatsi Molapisi.
Khama’s main aim is to ensure that he ousts his chosen successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi from power. The latter has since made it clear that should the BDP lose he would resign as its president. Khama is furiously campaigning and launching opposition parties’ candidates in the central part of the country, which is the ruling party stronghold.
Khama left the BDP a few months ago after a fall-out with Masisi over, among others, governance issues. While the UDC used to be Khama’s biggest critic, it has not embraced him and his party.
According to UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, “The BPF is on its own but we were brought together by our common agenda which is to unseat BDP.”
Mohwasa said BPF was a party on its own and has a right to field candidates even in constituencies that UDC has candidates.