As Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) conducts its last batch of Bulela-Ditswe next week it has emerged that women running for parliament might not survive the political storm, Botswana Guardian can reveal.
Unlike other political parties, BDP has no waiver for women and vulnerable people when it comes to contesting for political office. Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leads the pack in its affirmative action on empowering women for political office followed by the Botswana National Front (BNF).
Botswana has signed the SADC Protocol on gender equality, but the BDP government has made little effort to advance women to positions of political leadership. Under the leadership of BDP, Botswana has also not even met the minimum quota set out in the Protocol.
A careful scrutiny of parliamentary candidates by this publication has shown that Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcas Makgato tops the charts of those who will make it back to parliament.
She will be up against Specially Elected Councillor Kitso Seloma for Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency where she will be defending the seat.
Another possible survivor could be Kgalagadi North runner Talita Monnakgotla who is taking head-on area MP Itumeleng Edson Moipisi. Moipisi is also Assistant Minister of Land Management Water and Sanitation Services.
Monnakgotla, an entrepreneur, has made strides in the constituency winning the hearts of many while Moipisi was busy with government business as assistant minister.
Through her business she runs with her husband AT&T Monnakgotla she has been sponsoring school prize giving ceremonies at a tune of P4000. AT&T Monnakgotla also strives to create opportunities to help lift Kgalagadi youngsters out of poverty.
The company is also sponsoring an annual July football tournament for Kgalagadi and Gantsi known as KGAGA President’s Day Tournament which seeks to improve talent of the children in those areas so that they could compete with their peers across the country.
Monnakgotla is expected to bring hope to BDP women as the strong women of the BDP Botlogile Tshireletso and Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi are not contesting and have decided to hang their political boots. This development is likely to adversely impact the party that has been in power for over 50 years and preaches women empowerment while it has dismally failed within its internal development to at least have 30 percent of women making it to parliament.
As for Makgato, she has proven to be a force to reckon with ever since she made her mark in politics after leaving the corporate world. When she first contested during the 2013 Bulela-Ditswe she caused uproar when she sent a pool of men scurrying including the then area MP and Agriculture Minister, Oreeditse Molebatsi.
At that time Makgato was Specially Elected MP and Trade and Industry Minister.
Makgato cemented her power base within the BDP in 2015 when she was elected BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson in Lobatse. It was at the same elective congress where BDP women called for their increased participation in positions of leadership, decision-making and political offices so they could compete well with their male counterparts from primary to national elections.
She is the first women’s wing leader to have the BDP hold a general assembly of women from the 2nd to 4th of December 2016. The aim of the assembly was to create a forum for BDP women to discuss issues of concern in their empowerment. Makgato had explained that the general assembly is one of the commitments the women’s wing made upon assuming office in 2015 to create additional organisational structures at national level to ensure BDP women engage more regularly on issues of concern.
She was last year re-elected unopposed when the women met in Maun for the elective congress. At the constituency Makgato is said to have ensured that she takes onboard all the council candidates to work with her. She has also set up a campaign team to focus strictly on parliamentary campaign. News on the ground is that she will have an easy walk against Seloma.
Other women in some of the constituencies will face obstacles against their male counterparts some of whom have established themselves within the constituencies. The BDP has indicated that it believes in democracy and wants women to go through the same process as their male counterparts to gain confidence from voters for political office. The party has indicated that empowering women does not mean giving them a free ride.
Botswana is still far behind in getting higher numbers of women to occupy positions of leadership despite being hailed as a good example of democracy. Other countries in Africa such as Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are far ahead in terms of representation in parliament and cabinet.
Government has been condemned by the opposition for this indicating that some of the countries are now close to attaining the 50 percent mark while Botswana is nowhere close to even 30 percent. According to the opposition, this shows that the BDP government lacks commitment to women empowerment hence its reluctance to implement the Protocol.