Manifesto Experiment and Internal Electioneering in the Botswana Democratic Party

Written manifestos seem to be a rarity in intra-political party electioneering
in Africa, and there is a view that African party electioneering is largely nonissue based, instead being personality-driven. This article observes that the
phenomenon seems applicable even to Africa’s supposed ‘senior democracy’,
Botswana. Yet, the enduring, issueless factional electioneering of the longruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) resulted in a significant, albeit
one-off, interregnum in 2015. In the 2014 general elections, the combined
opposition had garnered 53% of the popular vote, while the BDP received just
47%. The BDP managed to hold onto power, however, due to the country’s
first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. This development appears to have
shaken and confused the elites of the BDP and caused concern among the
party’s hard-line factionalists. Subsequently, Botsalo Ntuane did extremely
well in the party’s 2015 central committee elections. In an unprecedented
move he competed for the influential position of secretary general as an
independent candidate and with an actual policy manifesto. This move
was outside of the traditional factional sponsorship method long-dominant
within the BDP. However, the factionalists soon regrouped and acted to
marginalise him and his manifesto. Ntuane consequently performed quite
poorly in the later 2017 elections, which once again were fought along strict
factional lines with no space for ideas or policies. This article argues that
Ntuane’s manifesto may have been perceived as too radical and unacceptably
ambitious by the conservative party elites. This manifesto also seems to have
threatened entrenched personal interests and corrupt practices within the
BDP-led government. The article concludes with a note on the dynamics
and results of the 2019 general elections.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol18 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa