The ruling Botswana Democratic party is reported to be spurning an invitation from South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) to join Socialist International. Socialist International is a world association of political parties whose aim is to establish democratic socialism. Traditionally is has been an association of communists, socialists and other radical political groupings and trade unions. It is of late seen as a progressive global organisation.
On Friday ANC’s general secretary Gwede Mantashe accompanied by an ANC delegation Including South Africa’s Minister of Affairs held negotiations talks with a team from the BDP secretariat led by Mpho Balopi. Mantashe who is also a member of the ethics committee for Socialist International paid a courtesy call to Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe immediately after a meeting with his BDP counterparts. While the idea to affiliate with other parties that run a huge welfare state has been welcomed by many within the ruling party, the party leader and President Ian Khama is reported to be opposed to the idea.
It is not really clear what Khama’s reservations are but by signing and affiliating the BDP would become bound by agreements it enters into with the world body. The BDP is also closer to the West and it insiders fear the association could affect Botswana’s international relations. In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Mantashe said that Socialist International has been engaging with the BDP for quite a long time. “At some point in time Botswana was a passage for cadres of the liberation movement…we cannot wipe that history off,” he said. He said while the BDP and BNF were opponents they both remain ANC allies. BNF has an observer status at Socialist International.
“We have a lot to learn from the BDP.as a governing party they are doing better than us in maths and science education, their currency is much stable than the rand,” adding that they were many things that the ruling party could learn from South Africa’s ANC led government. Meanwhile BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi has denied that President Ian Khama is against the idea of affiliating with socialist International. “If People have rejected the idea why would we entertain the negotiation process,” he asked rhetorically. Balopi said that only the central committee could reject or refer the issue to congress. “Even if BDP rejects .It has to be a collective agreement and not unilateral and it is up to the party leadership,” he told this publication. Other ruling parties in the region which are members of Socialist International are Frelimo in Mozambique, Swapo in Namibia, MPLA in Angola.
These were all liberation movements with an inclination towards either communism of socialism. Other regional parties which are members of Socialist International are Zimbabwe’s MDC led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai and PUDEMO is Swaziland which is made up of NGO and workers union members.