Smaller parties in Botswana argue that state resources are being used against them in the pre-elections period. The country goes to the polls in October.
Opposition parties allege that state entities, including the revenue service and intelligence directorate, are being used to target and weaken the opposition.
Botswana has one of the most stable democracies in Africa.
Opposition parties dented the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) traditional strongholds in 2014, but say they are hamstrung due to state resources being used against them. Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives, Wynter Molotsi, says the playing field is not level.
“The playground is not level because, when you have a ruling party, obviously they are funded by local companies and they also fund themselves from the coffers of government …. Half the time, the business people would rather support the ruling party than an opposition.”
Biggie Butale, the president of the newly-formed Botswana Patriotic Front, which has close ties to former president Ian Khama, speaks of a climate of unease.
“We have always been known to be a country where rule of law reigns supreme. But with the new regime, anything goes. They use the intelligence services to follow the opposition.”
However, BDP Secretary-General Mpho Balopi, has refuted allegations of having an unfair advantage.
“It does not matter whether its election year or not, the law has to take its course. Everything has to happen to save this country and to make sure that we are a country that preserves its sovereignty and its democracy, and its economy has to be very sound.”
Meanwhile, state agencies accused of targeting opposition party leaders denied the accusations.
Joseph Matambo, Director General at the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime, says that they are not affiliated to any party.
“Our activities here are guided largely by the corruption and economic crimes act. So we are not affiliated to any particular party.”
Peter Magosi, Directorate of Intelligence and Security, says that they will never cross the law.