- Southern Africa
Botswana elections: President accused of using government funds
Diamond rich Botswana heads for the polls on Friday. Incumbent President Ian Khama is expected to return to power. Reports say about 700,000 people of a population of 1.7 million have registered to vote in the southern African nation rated as one of the best governed in Africa.
On Sunday, Khama is said to have told his supporters that “the country has been in good hands and there is no cause for change”. He has called on his compatriots to support his Botswana Democratic Party in parliamentary elections on Friday.
The ruling party, Botswana Democratic Party has held power in Botswana for the past 43 years. But Khama is hoping that his MPs win convincingly to hand him the presidency as lawmakers elect the president.
The 56-year-old son of Botswana’s founding president will rely on his MPs to elect him president. He took over the job last April from Festus Mogae who held the reins for a decade.
However, as in other African elections where reports of vote buying during campaigns are most common, Khama, according to reports, has been accused of using government funds and resources to reinforce Botswana Democratic Party campaigns in constituencies where the opposition is considered to pose a threat.
The opposition Botswana Congress Party last week dismissed Khama’s national tours as a guise through which he actually campaigns for BDP candidates through his meetings and constituency walk-abouts.
But no “serious” reports of violence during campaigns have been reported unlike its neighbor Zimbabwe where hundreds of people mainly from opposition parties where killed and had their property destroyed.
Meanwhile, in a press statement, SADC executive secretary, Dr Tomaz Salomao said the organisation is encouraging Botswana to stay on the cause of democracy in the elections, as it has been the case in the past. "We came here to support electoral development," he said.
He commended Botswana, like most SADC states, for sticking to democratic principles and respecting its constitution for sustainable democracy and political tolerance. "We encourage Batswana to continue to demonstrate maturity by respecting the outcome of results," he said.