President Ian Khama has promised to engage the Botswana Democratic Party Youth Wing in formulating party policy and direction. Speaking at the youth wing’s national congress over the weekend, Khama said the youth have been marginalised and moribund in party activities because of factional bickering.
“I am the first to admit that the youth wing has not been very active in party programs. This cannot continue and you should not be marginalised, operating on the fringes of the party,” he said.
He added that the youth should not be pedestrians anymore, but rather drivers in the highway of democracy. He, however, cautioned that this demands independent vision, accountability and innovation from them.
He said the youth are future leaders of the BDP, and their conduct should reflect the aspirations and ideals of the party.
“I intend to create space for you to influence party policies through shared vision and space,” he said.
Khama said he reserved 50 percent of positions of specially nominated councillors for the youth after the 2009 general elections to enable them to grow into capable future leaders. He said the youth need to be empowered today, and there is no better way of doing so than exposing them to leadership roles at an early stage.
For his part, BDP Chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe, said the BDP should look to the youth wing for solutions to the problems that are currently bedevilling the party. He said any self respecting party youth wing should be relied upon to be able to circumvent such divisions and tensions, and guide and inform its mother body.
Kwelagobe added that the youth wing has a heightened responsibility to monitor the national mood and pulse, and accurately transmit its findings to the party leadership. He urged the youth to insure that BDP policies are relevant to the aspirations of Batswana.
Commenting on the issue, outgoing youth wing Vice Chairperson, Dithapelo Tshotlego, welcomed the development, saying the youth have been sidelined in influencing party policy, especially with regards to running the country.
“We are part of the governing party and we should be allowed to influence how this country is run, especially because we are the ones who defend our party’s policies on the ground,” he said.