20.10.2009

Country Leader to Be Sworn in Today

Gaborone — Botswana President Ian Khama will be sworn in today after his party won the country's 10th general elections over the weekend.

State radio announced yesterdayday that after the swearing in by Chief Justice Mr Julian Nganunu, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Patrick Balopi will convene the new National Assembly to endorse the four MPs specially elected (nominated) by the president. The Botswana parliament has 57 elected MPs and four nominated ones.

It is likely that President Khama will bring back the two cabinet ministers who lost in the elections - Neo Moroka and Jacob Nkate - through nominations.

The duo became the first ministers to lose elections in the country since 1994. The genial Mr Moroka is a former senior executive at BP petroleum company while the abrasive Mr Nkate is a lawyer and President Khama's blue-eyed boy.

Another Khama favourite, Kavis Kario, an assistant minister who lost in Selebi-Phikwe West might also get the nod and so is former cabinet minister and self-confessed Khama bootlicker, Ms Tebelelo Seretse.

After endorsing the nominated MPs, a new Speaker and a deputy will be elected by Parliament. There have been talk that veteran cabinet minister, Dr Margaret Nasha, who retired from elective politics this year is tipped to become the next Speaker of the Botswana Parliament.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to have it easy once again after it secured 45 seats of the 57 contested in the polls. Through nomination, it will add another four.

The combined opposition total in this year's elections is 12 seats, with the BNF narrowly retaining its long time status as the official opposition after getting six MPs, one better than the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). The BCP has however, increased its presence in Parliament from one to five and beat BNF in the popular vote.

For the first time in the country's history, Parliament will have a father and son and an independent MP.

BCP leader and presidential candidate, Gilson Saleshando has returned to Parliament after a 10-year absence as MP for Selebi-Phikwe West while his son, Dumelang has retained his Gaborone Central seat.

Mr Nehemiah Modubule, who was expelled by the main opposition, Botswana National Front (BNF) just before the elections has returned to Parliament as the first politician to win a parliamentary seat as an independent -derisively known as mokoko (chicken).

The name comes from the symbol chosen by the first candidate to stand as an independent in Botswana, Willie Seboni.

This year's election has seen the BNF losing its long time control of the Gaborone City Council (GCC) after it was eclipsed by the ruling BDP. For the first time since 1984, BNF failed to win a parliamentary seat in the capital. The party suffered total humiliation in Gaborone, winning only one council seat out of 30. The party once swept the stakes at both council and parliamentary level.

The BNF won all the seats in Gaborone in the 1994 elections. But it has been finding hard to repeat the feat with indications that this year, it might not even win a single seat. (SouthScan)

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