President Ian Khama, who is also leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has assured his support for women in his party who aspire to stand for local government as parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming general elections scheduled for 2014 on condition that they prove their readiness to take up the challenge.
Speaking at the BDP Women Wing’s 51st National Council Meeting in Kang at Macha Senior Secondary School this past Friday, Khama expressed concern about the number of women representatives in council and parliament, adding that the number will only increase when BDP women are ready to stand and gain the support of other women.
“I can only say to you that I stand ready to support all your efforts but the first step must come from you,” pledged Khama in his address.
The President stated his motivation came against the backdrop of an increasing number of women in the highest echelons of responsibility in the public service, and significant contributions made by women to the socio-economic development of the country generally.
In that context, he highlighted specific examples of how women have in different ways added value to life, especially at a time when their contributions mattered most.
“You will recall that in the early days when our economy was at its infancy; when many of our male citizens migrated to neighbouring South Africa to work in the mines, women remained behind to look after our families, but most of all, they fully engaged in Agricultural activities to fend for the households,” he said.
Khama further indicated that during those trying times, Agriculture was the only cornerstone of Botswana’s economy, and that it was women who ensured then that the economy of the country did not collapse because men had left.
The ultimate effect of those efforts, according to the BDP leader who is also the son of its founding president, was that Agricultural production has remained central to the economy of this country since independence.
“Hitherto, agriculture has remained critical in our continued efforts to promote and sustain food security through one of the Government’s Flagship programmes of poverty eradication,” Khama qualified in his speech.
In yet another acknowledgement of women’s contribution, especially BDP women, Khama pointed out that they formed the bedrock of his party’s life since its formation as they have been at the forefront in party mobilization and have been active in fund raising initiatives.
They have demonstrated a spirit of selfless volunteerism whilst campaigning in all the previous by-elections the party had since the 2009 General Elections, with the most recent one being Letlhakeng West which followed the passing away of Member of Parliament Maxwell Motowane.
Against that background, the Women’s Wing Congress was viewed as an occasion that afforded both women and the party in general the opportunity for reflection, self-assessment and above all, an opportunity to recommit to the BDP’s long held goals and objectives as a party.
“Our objectives have always been to build a united Botswana where everybody, irrespective of gender or origin can contribute to the best of their ability, improving their own lives and those in the broader community,” submitted Khama.
He applauded women for always having extended their motherhood role of bringing families together, into the “red family”, including unwavering support for the social security programmes which are commonly referred to as the President’s.
“It is only right that I mention that, in my call for ensuring that the underprivileged live a dignified life by providing shelter for them through the President’s Housing Appeal Initiative, women of the BDP were amongst the first to heed my call as you have built a house fully equipped with water, electricity and furniture for a needy person,” he said.
Khama expressed delight at what he said was an atmosphere of stability, peace and tranquillity that prevailed in the BDP much more than in 2009 when the party went for the elections, adding that for such an accomplishment BDP women take the mantle as it was the harvest of their endeavours.