In announcing that she will be standing for the position of BDP chairman, Pelonomi Venson, has said she will not be producing alongside herself a list of other people she wants elected to help her run the party in the event she gets elected.
She said that will be the task of the BDP faithful to decide.
While becoming a BDP chairman will bring with it new and added responsibilities, Venson is emphatic that she is at ease with retaining her executive position as Minister of Education.
She said she has made known her ambitions to the party leadership, but fell short of saying what the response she got was that leadership.
Effectively launching herself, Venson said she was very much aware of public apprehensions from some sections, especially in the wake of recent poor school examination results.
“I am fully aware of where the ministry is going. There is a roadmap. So far it is clear that turnaround will not be easy. But this is mainly because of where the ministry was. I have my ducks in a row,” she said as she enumerated the new changes and reforms she will be bringing to the Ministry of Education, ostensibly to improve delivery in the medium to long terms.
She said her decision to run for position of Chairman is the one that has not been taken easily, let alone lightly.
The decision, she said, came after serious thought and consideration.
“I have a family ÔÇô I am a mother, I am a wife and a grandmother. Before I make a decision to take added responsibilities I have to make a thorough consideration. I can tell you that my home base is strong and solid,” she said in reference to support from her family to run.
The same, she said, also applied to her constituency, Serowe South, where she said she has received blessings to run for the party’s second most senior position after president.
“A few have expressed some reservations, but by and large people in my constituency think I have what it takes.”
But can she really be a minister and BDP Chairman at the same given the prevailing circumstances?
“Yes I can do both. I have done it before. At one point I held four responsibilities at one time; Member of Parliament, Minister, Deputy Secretary General and Acting BDP Executive Secretary,” she said.
She said after all there is nothing at the moment that stops her from being both a Chairman and minister since the rules have once again been changed to allow for it.
All she wanted to do, she said, was to bring her administrative capabilities and experiences acquired over many years to transform the BDP.
At one point, President Ian Khama came out strongly to say people would have to choose between cabinet and party executive positions.
Only Daniel Kwelagobe resigned from cabinet in favour of retaining his position as BDP National Chairman. The rest, including the BDP Secretary General at the time, Jacob Nkate, opted for cabinet.
That moratorium has since been lifted.
“There is an advantage in being at both party and cabinet at the same time,” said Venson this week.
Perhaps, as a sign of what she would use as her campaign rallying cry, Venson vaguely but strongly hinted at a BDP that is running out of time to reinvent itself and align itself for future changes, including a role as an opposition party.
She decried the lack of depth and modernization within the party ranks.
“BDP structures need to be more aligned. Perhaps because we have never worked as an opposition we do not even know how to respond to a war cry. But society is changing. The next generation will be more demanding. I am the only Member of Parliament who is active on Facebook. And that gets me worried,” she said.
Reference of BDP’s future role as an opposition party was first made by Daniel Kwelagobe, the current Chairman and Venson’s longtime mentor.
Kwelagobe has in the past said there is no longer any guarantee that the BDP, in power since independence, will win the 2019 General Elections.
And that, it seemed was a mantra that Venson echoed when she said BDP should learn to respond to a “war cry.”
But just what is it that Venson will be bringing? She makes explicit and countless references to administrative experiences, a theme that also comes out quite clearly in her resume.