Monday, August 15, 2022

BCP attacks BDP record on gender equality

Perturbed by statements that seemingly patronize women aspiring to higher office in Botswana, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) this week launched a scathing attack on the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), accusing it of being a “conservative and backward thinking party”, whose policies are not women-friendly but, rather, bent on suppressing women’s progression on the political landscape.

In a statement, BCP Women’s league president, Joyce Mmanthobatsang Mothudi, accused the BDP of ridiculing and belittling women, whose ambitions are to climb up the political ladder in the traditionally male-dominated arena.

Through Batlang Comma Serema, BDP Publicity Secretary, the ruling party rubbed the BCP the wrong way when, in response to comments made by BCP’s Anna Motlhagodi, the party’s official Gaborone North West candidate, declared that “politics is a tough game and not a beauty contest or a fashion parade”.
The BCP officially launched Motlhagodi as its parliamentary candidate and, at one of her series of political rallies around Gaborone, vehemently attacked President Ian Khama for misrule and shortsightedness.

This prompted Serema to issue a party statement advising her that “politics is a tough game and not a beauty contest or a fashion parade”.

“Underlying the statement that politics is a tough game is the notion that women are not part of mainstream politics in Botswana and that politics is beyond the comprehension of women,” said the BCP statement. “It also suggests that politics is preserved for men and not for women. The statement that politics is not a beauty contest or a fashion parade is an affront to women politicians in general.”

The statement added, “It is insulting to women politicians and the gender equality movement as a whole and a sure indicator that women still have a long way to go.”

The statement added that “so much has been said about the need for our society to have an inclusive and participatory democracy and that politics without equal women’s participatory is not democracy.”

However, such statements do not move the BCP an inch, particularly that the BDP government has, for the past 43 years, never bothered to assist Batswana women.

“Such a statement is not surprising coming from the headquarters of a conservative, degenerated and backward thinking party. It can be safely assumed that since it comes from the headquarters of the party the statement represents the official position of the party. No wonder, in spite of 43 years in power, not many women in the BDP and at national level advanced to occupy positions of leadership,” the statement said, adding that the fielding of three BDP women to contest for parliamentary seats in the 2009 is clear testament the BDP government does not intend to empower women into positions of influence.

However, Mothudi takes refuge in her party’s stance which, despite being relatively new on the scene, managed to field four women to contest parliamentary seats, one of them Anna Motlhagodi.

She is worried that Serema had to deviate from his response to the statements supposedly uttered by two BCP politicians, one a woman, and attacked the woman politician because of her gender.

“That he deviated from his response to attack a woman politician on her gender gives away Serema and his party’s attitude towards women’s participation in politics – that they do not belong there and that politics is preserved for men,” Mothudi noted, adding that such statements are a real setback after all the efforts that have been made to encourage women to join politics and stand for political office.

“Statements such as those made by Serema are degrading, belittling and an insult to the efforts of society to encourage more women to stand for political office. It is not surprising that women shy away from politics as they get discouraged by such attacks based on nothing other than that they are women,” she fumed and, at the same time, being thankful that Serema had exposed the BDP for what it is ÔÇô a party that has a low regard for women in politics.

Despite being a signatory to the SADC Protocol on gender equality, BCP is concerned that the BDP government has made little effort to advance women to positions of leadership.

“Under the leadership the BDP, Botswana has not even met the minimum quota set out in the Protocol. Botswana is still so far behind in getting numbers of women to occupy positions of leadership despite being hailed as a good example of democracy,” Mothudi notes, adding other countries in Africa, such as South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, far surpass Botswana in terms of representation in parliament and cabinet.

While these countries are now close to attaining the 50 percent mark, the BCP insists Botswana is no where close to even 30 percent.

“This shows the BDP government’s lack of commitment to women and hence its reluctance to implement the Protocol,” it observed.

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