It has never been made clear just why the Government of Botswana had to do?away with the All Party Conference – an annual gathering of all political?parties created in the 1990s as a consultative forum where all political?parties met as equals to discuss matters that affected all of them,?including the party of government.?Incidentally the revival of the All Party Conference has been a subject of?debate recently inside parliament.?It is our hope that the Government of Botswana will look favourably at this?initiative which was established with good intentions by those who?recognised the importance of setting aside partisan politics and coming?together to address issues of mutual interest.?
It has always been our view that the initiative was one example that?Botswana could showcase to the world as an example of its democracy?at work ÔÇô demonstrating not just maturity of our democracy but more?importantly tolerance that is so much in short supply across the African?continent.?As it is, there are many issues that affect even the Governing party, which?Botswana Democratic Party is not able to resolve notwithstanding all the?advantages of being an incumbent?The recent troubles surrounding the Francistown West are the latest example,?where in effort to use its advantage as party in power, the BDP ended up?treading so close to illegality so much so that the integrity and indeed?credibility of the office of the President and the Vice president were?contaminated.?
The fairness, impartiality and in some instances ability to uphold the?constitution of the persons holding the said offices was also put under?enormous strain ┬áas a result of scrutiny especially as it became clear that?elections had been postponed on the basis of a lie that passed for a?petition.?There was despair on the part of opposition because they felt that?government institutions which are state resources were unfairly used to give?unfair advantage to the BDP.?There is no proof that President Ian Khama or indeed Vice President?Ponatshego Kedikilwe knew or much less were themselves party to fraudulent?activities by BDP activities to hijack an elections process that ended up?soiling even the good name and supposed impartiality of the Independent?Electoral Commission.?
We say these things in a long and winded manner to deliberately point out?and drive home the fact that in the absence of a forum such as the All Party?Conference, everybody feels powerless, feels sidelined and without much?recourse as it happened so clearly in an example highlighted above.?In calling for the revival of such a forum, Member of Parliament for?Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi is quoted in the media as having said the?forum would provide the much needed platform for inter-party dialogue.?
He could not have come up with a more incisive description.?What is needed at this stage as the revival of the platform is debated is a?restraint and level headedness, with each party going out to listen to one?another, showing preparedness to make concessions and more importantly?tolerance.?
To allay the fears by Government, a suggestion can be made that the forum?will be chaired by none other than the Vice President of the republic.?This is to allow enough Government input while also guaranteeing that?decisions and resolutions adopted will receive due attention in government?to allow for implementation.