Monday, September 28, 2020

Statement on BDP 50th Anniversary Celebrations – Botsalo Ntuane

I have noted the decision of the National Executive Committee(NEC) of my party, rescinding the resolution of 16th February 2011 to participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the founding of the BDP.

It will be recalled that I was on Duma FM on Wednesday evening, being interviewed about my time as BDP executive secretary. During the course of the discussion I made a case for why it is necessary for political parties in a pluralistic political environment such as ours to peacefully co-exist and hence why it is in order for the BMD to take part in the commemoration. It is not my desire to interrogate the grounds for the change of heart by the BMD leadership. I however maintain what I said in my interview on Duma FM; ie) there is no basis in a country like Botswana for politicians to refer to others as enemies.

There are many countries where such labels are used, appropriately it might be said, because the politics they practise are a matter of life and death. On the contrary what we have in our country, for which we are internationally renowned, and which we must all promote is a culture of political tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence between all political players and organisations. I refuse to subscribe to an emerging narrative that seeks to say if we hold different political views, then that necessarily defines us as enemies and therefore we cannot sit at the same table and break bread. This new narrative is disturbing and cannot auger well for our country. In Botswana, with our small population and close familial ties, political affiliation has never been a source of division or conflict.

This is a correct path, envied by many, from which we should not deviate. In the same Duma FM interview I cited the example of the ANC’s centenary celebrations in December 2011 in Bloemfontein where organisations that had fought to the death such as the IFP and the ANC were able to sit side by side. I am not an enemy of the BDP. Neither do I think the BDP considers me or my party as an enemy. After all this is not the language of Botswana politics. We are political rivals and competitors and that is as far as it goes. I could canvass the issues of why for a new political party like the BMD it is critical to use a function such as the 50th anniversary celebrations; which will attract eminent personalities and political organisations from across the sub region; for networking purposes. That though will amount to challenging the decision of the NEC. I have no wish to do so.

With respect to attending the 50th anniversary commemoration, I wish to disclose that even before the BMD made a decision, subsequently rescinded, the BDP had formally extended a personal invitation to me as a former executive secretary at Tsholetsa House ( 1996/7-2004). It was drawn to my attention that all those who have occupied the office have been similarly invited. As an advocate of political tolerance, respect and peaceful co-existence I will honour this invitation in my personal capacity because my historic association and indeed contribution to the BDP, both good and bad, during my time as a member and worker cannot be erased. My current political affiliation cannot alter the facts of history.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.