Despite the ongoing public spats involving its leadership, the BDP women’s wing recently graced the conference centre of Maharaj Motel in Gaborone for a workshop on empowerment of women.
The conference was allegedly put together by the women’s wing as a way of empowering BDP women candidates ahead of the 2009 general election. For the voting public, the election is only two months away.
The subject of women’s candidacy in political parties, which has raised much interest this year, has placed the focus on which party has the most women candidates standing for the 2009 election contest.
Using information that was collected as of February 2009, the party that led the pack with the most number of women standing for parliament was the country’s fast growing opposition organisation, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), with women forming about 11percent of the confirmed candidates.
The BCP is followed by the ruling party of 44 years, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with about 5.3 percent of women representatives in Parliament.
By the time the research was carried out, the BNF had still been in the process of carrying out primary elections.
With only two months left before the elections, how far have our political parties gone in trying to meet the 3opercent women quota that had sprung up beginning of the year?
The BDP executive secretary, Comma Serema, said the BDP has a number of strategies they plan to use to bring more women on board.
Parliament, predominantly BDP this year approved a motion brought up by one of their own, Tshireletso Seretse, to increase the number of specially elected members of Parliament from four to eight. Four should be women.
Opposition parties and critics saw this as a BDP ploy to increase its women in power without the support of the general public.
Vice president, Mompati Merafhe, referred to the bill as an ‘affirmative action’ policy that would give women a greater stake in decision making at a national level.
Merafhe also revealed that through the workshop, women would be equipped with the appropriate set of skills that they need to compete with their male counterparts in the coming general election.
“The party is currently grappling with a host of challenges but even under such circumstances, relegating women s issues to the back seat could never be an option,” said Merafhe.
BCP s executive secretary, Kagiso Tshwene, said as far back as February, that the BCP had plans to entice women into parliamentary seats by making special arrangements.
This is whereby top leadership would address rallies in some constituencies to encourage women to stand for candidacy.
The party also had a newsletter with a centrefold of profiles dedicated entirely to women who have the desire to become representatives.
The President of the BCP women s league, Joyce Mothudi informed this very paper that at this time of the year their primary focus was on intense campaigns for the women candidates.
She said they were not going to be holding workshops at this stage because they are very confident in their candidates.
“in fact some of the women standing for the 2009 elections have stood for elections before, so they were familiar with the environment and they tried to pass their knowledge to the others, we have also received training from the independent electorate commission(IEC),”said Mothudi.
She confirmed that they now had about 4 women as parliament and about 34 for council candidacy.
She also revealed that the BCP women would be attending the IEC workshop that is currently being held countrywide.