In announcing that she will be challenging President Mokgweetsi Masisi the Minister of Local Government Pelonomi Venson said out of courtesy she had notified both the president and also the ruling party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi about her ambitions and intentions. Her courtesy however has not gone far enough.
If in her mind she truly wanted to be courteous, especially to the president who appointed her to cabinet she should have resigned her ministerial position before making a public statement to challenge the same president.
Staying in cabinet while challenging the president and chairman of the same cabinet smacks of self-dealing.
While still there we should ask ourselves if it would have taken so long before she was sacked from cabinet if it was Ian Khama she was challenging?
The fact that she stayed as a minister long enough after she poked the president’s nose says a lot about the extent of Masisi’s tolerance and also the president’s convictions to basic democratic principles.
The public will continue to struggle to disassociate her from the entitlement mentality that is so much a selling brand of her handlers.
In making her intentions known, Venson also tried very hard to play the gender card.
It’s a non-starter. She’s also pushing her luck too hard.
Her attempts to connect her decision to gender activism and women empowerment border on the fallacy.
Out of political expedience she’s deliberately and conveniently trying to tap into gender activism, which has never been her card to start with.
When she contested the ruling party chairmanship, and lost she never mentioned the gender card because it is an issue that has never been close to her heart.
In the same way she did not use the gender card when she contested and lost the African Commission chairmanship.
She’s now clutching at the straws, thus reminding me of the seminal words by the United States Chief Justice earlier this year when the Supreme Court in that country decided to recognise same sex marriages.
In a dissenting decision that had deep conciliatory undertones, John Roberts called on people to celebrate the majority decision, but to never attribute that decision to the Constitution of the United States.
“If you are among many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” said Justice Roberts, a towering legal mind.
In the same way here, gender activists might celebrate Venson’s decision as a woman to challenge Masisi. But her decision has got absolutely nothing to do with women, gender or gender activism.
She knows so well that her attempts to hoist her decision on gender will neither sell nor stick, if not for anything else because her pretentions are also so transparently disingenuous.
To paraphrase the words of one friend of mine from the same political party like Venson’s, we might never know all of her true intensions; “but they can never be good.”
In the main Venson is doing Ian Khama’s bidding. And that has got nothing to do with gender or gender activism.
It has not escaped our attention that she is not known for any history of gender activism. Otherwise she would not have engaged in a protracted dance of death with Tebelelo Seretse in Serowe.
Her civil service career, like her personality has been characterized more by machismo and masculinity than by femininity.
Her political career, otherwise distinguished until she chose to bring it to a sorry end, is also a tale of attachment to a fabled strongman that is Ian Khama.
She has very much been a Khama family retainer as much as she has been that family’s appendage.
She should not try to mislead us by saying she is the only one who was able to stand up to Khama in cabinet. Other people did try too. And they paid a heavy price by either being expelled from the party or from cabinet.
The reason why she survived [grand]standing up to Khama has got nothing to with her being a good governance person. It had everything to do with the special relationship that she had with Khama(s).
Gender disparity is the scourge at the root of not just power imbalances, but humanity itself.
The discrimination against women across mankind has to change.
But falsely flaunting a gender card the way Venson is doing will make that change so much harder and almost impossible to achieve.
When good causes like gender activism and women equality are so wantonly misrepresented, such efforts easily become an affront even to those sympathetic to them.
Proof of that will be when her decision backfires and she loses, big time.
These are elementary principles that Venson is willing to risk to attain state power under a false guise before handing it over to her masters.
And that is more the reason why she should be called out.
Venson is challenging Masisi not because gender demands it ÔÇô or else she would have long done it when this country, including especially its women was under a clear misrule by Ian Khama.
She is challenging Masisi because like Khama she is angry that she has not been able to get from Masisi what she thought she is entitled to.
Her decision to stand is not based on gender considerations, certainly not based on her constitutional right. Far from it!
She is standing because of her personal loyalties and personal grievances.
This is why she will be even more hurt to learn in a short while that fewer women will be supporting her than the last time she ran for a ruling party position.
Gender activists have every right to celebrate the decision by Venson.
But in doing so, they should not be under any illusion that Venson is one of them. Or that she is standing because of the ideals they cherish.
More offending is the fact that she is standing because she is also a cheerleader of a patriarchal dynasty that actually reversed gains that had been made by gender activists during the presidency of Festus Mogae.