Political parties, including the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), yearn for the resuscitation of the ‘All Party Conference’ credited for nurturing democracy and for promoting political tolerance.
Opposition parties claim the government of President Ian Khama seems not keen to revive the ‘All Party Conference’.
The All Party Conference provided a platform for political parties to appraise government on key political issues that require attention.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesman, Taolo Lucas, says the All party Conference acts as some kind of a political barometer on electoral as well as governance issues.
“The current government does not seem to attach any importance to it. That is why the ruling party can pronounce that they are not ruling this government with the opposition. It is unfortunate because those who have not been elected to govern carry useful opinions and viewpoints that may benefit the country,” says Lucas.
The Chairman of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Nehemiah Modubule also weighed in, saying: “It is a Constitutional requirement to have all party conference. It shapes the political landscape. It is critical as it allows parties to move forward to discuss desirable systems of governance. It allows political parties to discuss issues such as whether or not they want to have a system of first past the post or proportional representation. It makes it easier for the Minister of Presidential Affairs to implement the collective decision of political parties.”
The ruling party’s Lesang Magang of the publicity sub-committee does not think it is a bad idea to revive such conference.
“Part of its importance was to build relationships amongst political parties. It was a forum that allowed opposition parties to criticise each other but afforded them to reach common ground despite their differences of opinion,” says Magang. He said, as the BDP, they do not have a position as yet on reviving the All Party Conference, but said they welcome an opportunity to sit down with other political parties on any matter of national interest. “It could be political party funding, it could be any matter. We would not want to miss such an opportunity,” said Magang.
The Botswana National Front (BNF) secretary general, Akanyang Magama, also spoke in support of reviving the All party Conference.
“In a Democracy dialogue is important,” he said.
Magama said that the problem is that if it is revived, the BDP, like previously, will not recognise it as an important forum. He said the BDP has failed to implement many recommendations from the All Party Conference.
“If it is revived it will have to be managed differently…it will have to be restructured and particularly with regard to implementation of recommendations,” said Magama.