As Botswana Heads To The Polls,Post Election Fragility Should Be Avoided At All Costs

In just under a fortnight on October 23rd, citizens of Botswana will head to the polls to elect a government which will lead the country into the new decade. This year's elections will be hotly contested mainly between the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) — which is structurally in tatters as a result of the factional tussle between the incumbent president Masisi and former president Ian Khama's camps ,the former now a member of his splinter party called Botswana Patriotic Front—,and the main opposition parties the Umbrella For Democracy (UDC), a collective of numerous and now defunct opposition parties as well as the Alliance For Progressives(AP),another splinter party of the ruling BDP.

With enough tussles and drama between and within the parties to complete several screenplays for a soap opera,Botswana's political landscape leading to the 2019 general elections is probably the most intense it has ever been in the country's 53 years of democracy.

Although in the previous election years the country still experienced an increase in tensions which never turned violent and overall intense political activity during election periods,this year's happenings have a lot of people— myself included—fearing possible situations of  upheaval within the country post elections.

As aforementioned,this year's elections are slated to be the most closely contested in the history of the country's young democracy and supporters as well as the leaders of the different parties—judging from their social media activity and activities at rallies—are very confident that their respective parties are going to do enough to be voted into governance.

The BDP supporters—although their party is the proverbial wounded gazelle—are confident that the party can still capitalize on its popularity in rural areas and the northern constituencies,garnering enough parliamentary seats to resume governance. They are also counting on the sudden acquaintance with UDC of former president Khama—who is not very popular with the country's young citizenry as a result of his disastrous stint in the highest public office—to work on their favor and chase away the young vote from the UDC.

UDC supporters, on the other hand, seem to be confident on the rate of the party's popularity in the country's urban areas—popularity which they will hoping will translate to votes on election day—as well a growing presence in the country's political landscape in the rural areas as a result of the endorsing of some of their candidates by the former president Khama,very popular among the rural populace, whose goal for his support seems to be to get back at his predecessor for his "betrayal".

Lastly—although their party seems the least likely to give the ruling party a run for their money— the Alliance For Progressives comrades consider themselves the dark horses in the race by virtue of having the least factional drama and hence more solid structure,a situation they will be hoping Batswana will take into consideration at the ballots.

Apart from the forementioned logistics,the respective party supporters also have much confidence in their parties' manifestos,all believing that theirs is the most feasible as well as the most likely to move the country from the rut it currently finds itself in.

As welcome as active participation in politics by citizens is,care must be taken when it comes to actions by party leaders and members as well as the media during and post elections. Election period—as evidenced by situations in some African countries—is a very delicate time which can severely alter the internal structure of a country and possibly lead to situations of fragility.

Botswana—in its current dire economical situation—can simply not afford to find itself embroiled in post election instability.Like i mentioned on this post,situations of fragility in a country have extensive negative effects on a country's economy which most of the time set off a domino effect affecting its social structure which leads to overall instability.

It is therefore of utmost importance that although one is confident of their party's stance as the country heads to the polls,they exercise restraint and acceptance of the election results even if they come not in their favor. It is during this time that leaders,members and the media must remember our national principles of botho,democracy and unity which have we have upheld for so long as have seen us to being one of the most peaceful countries in the world.

Party leaders,members should refrain from making baseless accusations of vote-rigging when they do not perform as expected and the media should prevent further stirring these situations by sensationally dispersing the news as if they were the holy grail. Should there be a reason to suspect foul-play in the election process,parties and the media should allow independent observers to confirm their suspicions before spurring on members and the public to upheaval.

Although all the different party members have different ideas on what will best take the country forward,the common denominator in all their views is that for all of them,their will is to see Botswana moving forward and be able to offer sustenance for its citizens,a situation which will not be possible should the country see itself in turmoil after elections.

Party members and the population at large should not let their emotions be swayed by self-serving politicians who would be willing to do anything including disrupting the country's peace to serve their selfish interests. The concept of country before party should always be at the forefront of thinking for all and anyone who indulges in actions—based on unfounded accusations— which will spark situations of fragility should be deemed an enemy of the country and its people.

Elections—regardless of who wins—should present an opportunity for Batswana  and whichever government will be at the helm to work together, steered on by our principles of botho and unity to not only rebuild this beautiful country but also place it where it belongs,at the top of the world,and not turn it into another failed African state.




Popular Posts