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Tebelelo Seretse: Classic example of sidelining of women in Botswana politics


The only woman in the race for the BDP chairmanship seemingly remains unfazed by the drama and willy-dealing within that party. She is currently hot on the campaign trail and will push through the D-Day. In the societal context, she is a lily among thorns!

Tebelelo Seretse did not beat about the bush in making her intentions known about running for the BDP executive top post. Interestingly, it is not her first time running for that office. The last time she ran for that seat was in 2009 and she was defeated by Daniel Kwelagobe.

The clock is ticking fast and the tide is clearly shifting away from her.


Vice President Masisi has pulled all stops, apparently with the approval and assistance of President Khama, and is giving the other contenders a full run for their money. Some big-wigs and veterans at the party seem to also endorse Masisi by virtue of his being the hand-picked Vice President.

Seteng Motalaote has gone on to withdraw from the race, either because he feared the inevitable or as a sign of respect for the party leadership.  

Seretse, however, is not ready to bow out. Of all the candidates, Seretse stands out as the one with the most experience and knowledge of the inner workings of the party.
Undoubtedly, her party record is impressive.

Graduating from the BDP Youth Wing, Seretse was a member of the Central Committee who then went on to head the party’s Women’s Wing. A former Member of Parliament, she crowned her illustrious presence in the BDP with a diplomatic post to the United States – a country to which most countries always send their best, knowledgeable and most articulate representatives.

Now, Seretse is once again daring herself into a tough situation. Many people believe she is destined for yet another disappointment at the BDP’s congress coming in July.


But Seretse has never shied away from challenges; win or lose, she relishes a fair fight. She has lived for the party; she has long been a party activist and has significant strategies and achievements attributed to her within the BDP.


It is going to be a bruising fight.

The BDP Youth Wing, among other committees in the BDP, has pledged full support for Masisi. Most of the membership seems to have been swayed to the VP’s side, mostly because of his campaign machinery which has gone all out and did a masterful job.


There is no doubt, however, that Seretse would be a more fitting candidate and could possibly brew a shocker but, as always, being a woman, she is almost guaranteed to lose.


It would have been a very interesting race if Masisi had not ploughed into the race using the VP card.


Only two women, including Seretse herself, have tried before but no woman has ever held this position in the BDP.

Seretse was the first woman to try her luck in 2009 but lost to party veteran and former MP for Molepolole South, Daniel Kwelagobe.
More recently, Dr. Pelonomi Venson Moitoi also tried in 2012 but lost to one of BDP’s richest men, Samson Guma Moyo.

Botswana is one of Africa’s top performers in many governance indicators but has dragged its feet on women representation in politics. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report and Index, the country has made great strides in achieving gender equality.

In 2014, Botswana ranked 51 out of 142 countries surveyed. In terms of female participation in the economy, it was ranked number 8 in the world; and with regard to equality of educational attainment, it stood at first place over five years.

That notwithstanding, Botswana has the lowest rate of participation and representation of women in politics in the Southern African Development Community region.


Botswana women held only 27 per cent of cabinet positions in 2002 – a low figure that further declined to 17 per cent in 2012, signifying a major reversal.


In 2014, the figure further decreased to less than 10%.

In parliament, women representation has since decreased from 18.2% in 2002 to the current 7%.

The BDP, being the dominant party, should demonstrate its support for women participation in politics and leadership. Technically, women in the BDP should stand a better chance to win, should they be afforded required support and opportunities.


It is sad that the BDP has denied women candidates like Bonolo Motsumi (who tried to become secretary general) and Dr. Margaret Nasha (who ran for the same post).
Now the same fate seems to be happening to Seretse.

None of the women who have contested have used the gender card, not that they should. As seen, Seretse’s resume speaks for itself, she has achieved as much, or even more than the other contenders, the VP included.

Ironically, only Daniel Kwelagobe has come out to openly pledge his support for Seretse. Gender activist and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, in a recent media report could not reveal who she supported but did align herself more with Seretse by indicating that suspicions that she could support Seretse, who is a woman like herself “could be true”.

After being elected Chairperson of the Women’s Wing, Dorcas Makgato did not want to speak openly about who her committee endorsed.
Seretse’s entry into the same race in 2009 was marked as historic in the party books and yet the BDP does not seem to be in any mood to make actual history with Seretse.

Not surprisingly, however, the Botswana government has not ratified the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and this has been interpreted as government’s lack of commitment to women’s rights and their participation in politics.

In Articles 4, 12 and 13 of the SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development, adopted by SADC Heads of State and Government in August 2008,emphasis is placed on the importance of a “50:50 target” on representation of women and men in politics and decision making positions in SADC.



“Enhancing Political representation of women requires changes within the political party systems, national policies and the legal framework to allow for the inclusion of women,” wrote Keneilwe Mooketsane in a 2014 BIDPA Policy Brief, Gender and Political Representation in Botswana.

“The creation of opportunities for representation of women or the provision of political space for decision making does not necessarily translate into political influence or gender equity policies particularly in an environment where the government is yet to inculcate a gender sensitive perspective in its policy making. However, it would be a commendable effort and a starting point towards political empowerment of women.”

The BDP will hold its elective congress in Mmadinare this July. MP Biggie Butale, former MPs Ramadeluka Seretse and Tebelelo Seretse, Moemedi Dijeng, Dithapelo Tshotlego and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi are contesting for the hot seat.

Masisi, the latest entrant in the race, is expected to automatically succeed President Khama as Head of State when the President retires in 2018.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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