Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane has acknowledged the threat posed by the nascent opposition parties’ coalition.
Late last week, the country’s major opposition parties concluded an agreement to include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) into the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) alliance. Negotiations finally included BCP, one of the three major opposition parties in the country into the UDC fold after the initial merger fumbled prior to the 2014 general elections.
Ntuane told the press this week that BDP is closely monitoring the developments and that it will be foolhardy of them to close their eyes to events, lest they find themselves hapless on the broadside. He further stated that the BDP is in dialogue over UDC’s final consolidation. “The fact of the matter is that as a political party you introspect in times like these to avoid being caught on the wrong side,” Ntuane stated.
He further continued: “We are observing this situation and we are talking as a party, we touch on these issues to determine what we do when things change shape.” He also hinted that BDP top brass addressed the UDC amalgamation in a recent party meeting. “We talk about them to determine how we continue to win elections? We talk about them so as to determine how we are to retain power in 2019?”
“So, I can’t reveal how we are going to deal with them because when you prepare for a rival who is preparing for you too, you cannot have the liberty to reveal your plans,” he intoned: “But it is something that we are aware is happening.” He also stated that, in the same breadth, BDP is aware of internal wrangling inside the coalition project.
“Like we always say, Botswana is a small country, some of us are relatives and some are friends while some share households but subscribing to different parties, people talk about these things. There is no such thing as a secret in Botswana and we are aware that there is trouble in paradise,” Ntuane alleged.
Ntuane further reiterated that his party is acclimatising to new changes in the country’s political landscape: “We are preparing and in due course party members concerned will be made aware how we are going to deal with the coming elections, if the new opposition project is to survive, since it has its own problems.”
He further summed up BDP resolve to retain state power: “A party exists for one thing; to rule, and even though opposition parties have lost since (19)65 and did not die away, they have existed with the hope that someday they will rule.” He further observed: “A ruling party exists to rule forever, so if it becomes apparent to you that competitors are reorganising, you also prepare with twice the strength.”
The amalgamation of UDC, unveiled the past Friday, means that Botswana’s opposition parties will battle in a united front to unseat the ruling party in the coming 2019 general elections. However, as far back as mid 2016, a prominent UDC insider had told this publication that the junior partner, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) had made demands for more constituencies. The new entrant, BCP has been allocated 17 seats while the BNF got 22, BMD 14 and BPP 5.
The parties will still trade under the unitary moniker ‘UDC’ and will contest all the upcoming elections as one symbol, adopting the royal blue colour as their identity. These movements of the left will retain the Social Democratic Program as their clarion call. As the UDC president, Boko shall head the National Executive Committee (NEC) flanked by two Vice Presidents; one from Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the other from Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
Currently BMD is lead by Ndaba Gaolathe and BCP is under the leadership of Dumelang Saleshando. The two are Boko’s VPs at UDC level. The combined opposition popular vote, casted in the last 2014 general elections stands at 53.55% while BDP has a share of 46.45%. Botswana is governed through majority rule of First Past the Post electoral system.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.