BCP president Dumelang Saleshando announced in his address at the opening of the elective congress on Sunday in Selebi-Phikwe that they will give preference to youth and women whom they perceive as capable for certain constituencies to stand in the place of men provided they were ‘stronger’ than the fielded men in those areas.
Youth are already disgruntled by the idea because of their lack of financial muscle, saying they are already disadvantaged to stand let alone attempt to embark on political campaigns because “inner party politics is too expensive, “as evidenced by the just-ended congress. A BCPYL member revealed that party elders have ganged up against them and would sabotage them when trying to vie for political office. “By virtue of adding the term stronger than men already nullifies our chances because due to their financial muscle they are able to cement their popularity hence becoming more popular than you. Samson Moyo Guma is popular in BDP because he has money so without it one is doomed,’’ said the youth.
Former youth league President Lotty Manyepedza who lost to Vain Mamela for position of Organising Secretary cast doubt on affirmative action, “We need to support each other as the youth first, but currently the opposite is the case,’’ he said. Manyepedza said the BCPYL is supposed to be a grooming ground for party leadership but all its former leaders have failed to make it to the central committee and are nowhere to be seen.
Affirmative action can only work if there is willingness from the people it is intended for, but the current BCPYL has shown that it is not ready as it turned against their own. Affirmative action is a federal agenda initiated in the 1960s that is designed to counteract historic discrimination faced by ethnic minorities, women and other underrepresented groups. In an interview with BCP women’s League President Tebogo Dingake, she lamented lack of support from the party leadership on issues affecting women. She also highlighted that “women lack financial independence and this problem is reflected in the financial status of the women’s league.’’ Dingake, the wife to the founding president of BCP Michael Dingake was sceptical about the implementation of the affirmative action by the party. She said that the party took a resolution at Sefhare congress last year to adopt the affirmative action programme but to date nothing has been done to implement it.
The other factor that worries Dingake is that majority of women “rely a lot on their male counterparts for transportation and other related expenses for party activities.’’ Party president Dumelang Saleshando said that the party is ready for affirmative action and is going to be implemented in the party primaries. “Some male candidates withdrew from contesting the central committee elections paving way for their female counterparts. It is a sign in the right direction,’’ he emphasised. Saleshando said that they are aware that some BCP members who have been asked to stand aside might sabotage the candidates. “Like I said in my speech we are going to deal with them accordingly.’’
Newly elected chairperson Motsei Rapelana also endorsed ther decision. Following her victory against James Olesitse, Rapelana told Northern Extra that the blueprint is there; it is just a matter of making party members aware of the guidelines and she also stressed that it will be exercised with the outmost caution. “Although credentials of candidates will be considered we will also look at who has been more active in the party it is more of a case of what have you done for the party,” she said.