A recent article in our sister publication, The Telegraph, in which Ministers Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Lesego Motsumi’s ministries were said to have been placed as the worst performing ministries has sparked a gender debate amongst local women’s organizations and opposition parties.
It’s said that the report threatens the future of women parliamentarians as Batswana are bound to lose faith in them.
It took a considerable number of years for Batswana to vote women into power, the report could tamper with the progress, they said.
Women’s organizations want to know what criteria was used to outline the report that placed the two as the worst perfoming ministers.
Venson-Moitoi and Motsumi form two out of five women in parliament; the fifth is a speaker of the national assembly.
In past years, women’s organizations and opposition parties have been advocating for an increase in women representatives in Parliament, citing the fact that there were more women voters than men yet the ratio of representatives in government was uneven.
Some have said that the results of the alleged report were biased because of the gender of the two ministers while some have said that the two were unfortunate enough to be placed within ministries that were already in ruins before they headed them.
Asked to comment on the issue, Keobonye Ntsabane, a journalist as well as a gender activist, said that if at all such a report exists, attention should be paid to the challenges the two faced in their respective ministries and not on the fact that they are women.
“If at all they were ranked as such, I don’t think it’s because of their sex, they are human beings first. Batswana should understand that this sort of issue can happen to anyone, be it a man or a woman, this is not an issue that should be raising gender disparities,” said Ntsabane.
In her opinion the way forward should be a review of what went wrong and what could be done to improve the situation in the future. She said that at times, performance can be hindered by circumstances beyond one’s control.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Youth President, Lotty Manyapetsa, revealed to the Sunday Standard that he saw no reason why the issue should be turned into a gender debate because he believed that women in general are capable of being good representatives of their people in parliament.
He, however, states that judging from their history, Venson-Moitoi and Motsumi were not capable of being in power positions as they have caused chaos in their previous ministries as well.
“I am not saying this because I am a BCP activist; it’s a simple fact. I also think that there are women in the Botswana Democratic Party that are more capable than the two. It’s just that they were favoured by the president,” said Manyapetsa.
Manyapetsa talked about the time when Motsumi was at the Ministry of Health and there was a crisis at CMS, where drugs worth millions of pula were being stolen and nurses were at loggerheads with government.
He also talked about the time when Venson-Moitoi was Minister of Communications, Science and Technology and there was a media bill frenzy.
“It’s not their gender that should be in question; it’s their history. I personally question why they were given these positions in the first place. You shouldn’t give people positions because they are your friends, the country ends up suffering,” said Manyapetsa.