Botswana not ready for direct election of president – DK

daniel_dkkwelagobe.jpgMinister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel 'DK' Kwelagobe has indicated that the country is not yet ready to introduce the direct election of the president and funding of political parties.

Kwelagobe was responding to MPs’ comments on a bill he tabled in Parliament to amend the Electoral Act.

He said that he has noticed that MPs especially from the opposition
want proportional representation and direct election of the president
to enrich Botswana’s democracy. He said such major changes would
require the ruling party to look at its policies as well as to make
further consultations.

Kwelagobe criticised suggestions that Botswana should copy from
neighbouring countries to enrich its democracy. He said that some
electoral reforms that have been introduced in the country have not
been beneficial.

He cited the lowering of the voting age from 21 years to 18 years and
said that this change targeting the youth has not been beneficial as
statistics indicate that young people do not vote.

He stated that reforms to allow citizens outside the country to
register and vote has been unsuccessful as many Batswana hardly bother
about elections. "A lot of them don’t register even where we have
embassies," he saidHe challenged suggestions that the BDP government
was doing things at a snail’s pace or piecemeal to level the political
playing field.

"We can’t rush to change everything," he said.He added that for the
time being,government is going to introduce electoral reforms step by
step. He ruled out suggestions by Gaborone South MP, Akanyang Magama
who said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) be given the
mandate of demarcating constituencies. Kwelagobe stated that if IEC
took over the role of the Delimitation Commission, its mandate of
administering elections might be compromised.

"We will be destroying IEC and its integrity," he said.The minister
ruled out the possibility of prisoners being allowed to vote. He said
allowing inmates to vote might entail logistical support, which the
prisons department does not have.He said that by going to jail,
offenders were surrendering not only their liberty but other rights
including the right to register and vote.


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