Sadly, as is becoming of modern Botswana, it is becoming bogged down in petty selfish posturing. It riles me that we have become so blind to what is of national interest as compared to the petty selfish inclinations of the different political cliques which if left alone will take this country down the road ‘to Greece’.
Floor crossing evidently leaves our system in a state of flux. An MP or councilor is here today and there tomorrow. This makes the public lose faith in politicians as they then believe politicians do what they must for their own ‘bellies’; sometimes not without reason. This has the potential to promote contempt for the craft of politics which is supposed to be among the noble most for it ensures the smooth operation of the affairs of a country - if well done.
The same floor crossing at whim even is also a nightmare for political party management as an MP may simply blackmail his party. It will not be uncommon where a party depends on one or two MPs to maintain its majority for those two to make demands on the party threatening to decamp if not rewarded.
Now, the solution to this is to make an elected leader lose his seat and contest a bye election if they want to move to another party. Politicians fear elections, thus you know that if they must go through a bye election then the political home they are leaving behind had seriously become inhabitable. Thus, we will not have an MP change political parties more than twice within a year without immediate consequences to his tenure. As well, going through a bye election and winning it will save the floor crosser the anxiety of not knowing what their fate will be at the time of a general election. They will immediately contest, win or lose and move on. Over and above, the constant accusation of ‘he stole our votes’ will no longer be there. Thus, it is also in the interest of the floor crosser to have this bill.
Making a provision for a bye election will also come with prescriptions on how many times one can cross the floor within a certain period of time. Thus one may not change parties for example more than twice in one year.
Some have argued that elections are expensive. The problem with those who say bye elections mean more expenses is their failure to realize that it is not an all open thing. You have conditions on how many times a person may defect within the term of their office. This will limit the number of times people may cross the floor and the costs of bye elections by extension. Over and above, bye elections are not only costly to the tax man. It also costs for politicians to run campaigns.
Placing some sort of moratorium upon them thus means they will be deterred from crossing at whim. If he crosses the floor he has a bill to foot in campaigning for the seat and also the added risk of losing the seat. In a system where bye elections are prescribed after a defection people defect only when they absolutely have to since there are immediate costs to crossing the floor.
Is this logical? Yes it is. The person who defects would have gone to parliament or council on the ticket of some political party. Without the person, the party would have fielded another candidate. The resources of a political party (time, money, human) would have been employed to take that person to council or parliament. Now, if the person is to cross the floor this is blatant robbery. The party has lost an investment. Also, the voter who voted for that person did so at the time when they associated the candidate with a certain party. If he wishes to change parties then let him go back to the voters and say ‘I have changed parties, do you still want me to represent you?’ An answer to this can only be had through another election, a bye election.
One now hopes politicians and activists across board stop playing mind games over this issue. Every time it is raised the BCP say it was the subject of a conspiracy between BDP and BNF back in the aftermath of 1998 to punish them. Meanwhile, the BMD say it is targeted at them since they are to bleed BDP dry (well, three months ago they were saying that and now that they are being bled dry I don’t know what they will say), the BNF by being bosom buddies with BMD have also been against it and may just change now as it is opportune to do so seeing BMD is losing blood pretty quick. Meanwhile, one also hopes the BDP, which has been championing this bill, does not change its stance now that it is benefiting from a BMD shipwrecked at sea. All are playing victim but they do not mention the nation! Fraud.