Some members of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who intend to stand for parliamentary and council elections may find themselves vetted out if they compete against women, youth and people with disabilities, thanks to the affirmative action that the party’s 2012 national conference adopted.
The president of the party, Dumelang Saleshando, told journalists at a press conference that his party will favour minority groups in the upcoming primary elections billed for November and December.
Saleshando said his party’s 2012 annual conference adopted a resolution on affirmative action which aims to allow for positive discrimination in favour of women, youth as well as people with disabilities.
“In terms of this policy, the identified categories of applicants pay a reduced application fee for them to qualify as candidates. They will also be favoured where their level of activism, qualifications as well as positions of responsibility held in the party surpasses that of their opponents,” he said.
Saleshando said they made a deliberate discriminatory approach to allow for more women, youth and disabled in positions of responsibility.
He said Botswana was a grandfather of democracy in Southern Africa yet toddlers are ahead of it with respect to women representation in Parliament.
Mid this year, the party released primary elections fees. Those vying for parliamentary seats will pay P5, 000 while those vying for council will fork out P1, 500. However application fees for women, youth and those with disabilities would be reduced to P1, 125 for council and P3, 750 for Parliament.
On preparation for primary elections, Saleshando said the process has commenced and aspiring candidates have submitted their applications. He said currently, constituencies are in receipt of the applications and are expected to remit the applications to the party office with their comments on the suitability of the applicants to represent the party.
“The submissions by the constituency committees will be assessed by the national vetting committee which will make its recommendations to the central committee. The central committee will take the final decision on all the applications. This entire process will be carried out during the month of October to allow for primaries in November and December,” he said.
Saleshando also used the press conference to welcome retired diplomat, James Masisi into his party.
Saleshando said, Masisi whose last diplomatic service was in South Africa as High Commissioner, has chosen the difficult route and identified with a party that cannot offer him any immediate reward, but instead joined a party that will require him to sacrifice his time and resources.
“We may not have the silver and gold that the ruling party is awash with, but we offer a dream that is worth pursuing for the benefit of our collective future. Comrade Masisi is now part of a collective that aspires for a Botswana that embodies the highest standards of democratic governance, not the current system where the head of state assumes office without being subjected to a direct election; a Botswana whose natural resources are optimally used for the benefit and empowerment of the citizenry, not the current system where economic power lies in the hands of the foreigners whilst the citizens are objects of cheap and exploitable labour.