Two University of Botswana (UB) Political Science experts have given thumbs up to the nomination of US Senator, Kamala Harris as a running mate for Joe Biden in the upcoming US elections in November.
According to the experts, local political parties should take a cue from the US by electing women to positions of power in their political parties. Mmegi Staffer, LEBOGANG MOSIKARE reports
FRANCISTOWN: Since the advent of politics in Botswana, one would not be off the mark to say that despite their numerical advantage in terms of the national census, women in Botswana have not used their numbers to climb up the political ladder within political parties across the political spectrum.
Some observers even posit that some women are more content with singing in the choirs of their political parties than occupying positions that may one day propel them to the highest peaks in the land-President and Vice President.
While there is no debate that women in Botswana have all the qualities and qualifications to occupy the two highest positions in the land just like their male colleagues, it seems that many of us will go to our graves without having witnessed that momentous occasion since only a handful of them are showing the willingness to break the glass ceiling.
According to Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao, UB politics expert, the nomination of Harris is a demonstration to the womenfolk in Botswana’s political arena that just like men, women are also capable leaders, who with the right qualifications and experience must avail themselves for leadership positions within their political parties. “The number of women in influential positions between parties is still very low in Botswana. There is therefore a need for political parties to improve the representation of women and youth among their leadership. Not only does this improve the legitimacy of parties, it also ensures that issues affecting women are represented and articulated by those who understand them better,” said Lotshwao.
Asked why is it a somewhat difficult task for women to ascend to the top of the political ladder in Botswana, Lotshwao said: “For patriarchal societies like Botswana, women are in few positions of leadership because many people still don’t trust women with power and responsibility, preferring men instead. In addition to patriarchy, lack of economic resources has contributed to the few numbers of
Adam Mfundisi, another UB politics academic echoes Lotshwao’s sentiments.
Mfundisi is of the view that the elevation of Harris as Biden’s running mate means a lot to women in Botswana who aspire for higher political positions and or ultimately the highest-Presidency.
“First, the noble statement by Biden on why he chose a woman to be his running mate is legendary. He posited that a representative government should look like the country. If more than half of the population are women, therefore, women must be genuinely represented in government.”
Mfundisi added that Biden was quoted as saying that “any country that does not engage more than half its population in sharing the full responsibilities of governance and power is absolutely going to lose”. Mfundisi exalted Biden saying he sounded like a future US president. He also said that due to patriarchal culture and other factors, women in Botswana have been degraded to lower positions in various political parties.
“Patriarchal culture has dominated Africa, Botswana included. Moreover, in the period of narcissism, the mushrooming of politicians who are driven by dreams of glory find the spotlight in politics irresistible. The entitlement, grandiosity and arrogance, and insecurity and hunger for acclaim have made male politicians to exclude women from power. And, unfortunately, women have succumbed to male exploitation,” Mfundisi opined. Women in Botswana, he further said, are their own enemies as they have been indoctrinated to think that they are the lowest in the societal strata.
“They have engaged in the pull her down syndrome and therefore are perpetuating servitude. For example, how women of BDP teared Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi apart and salutations by the party’s men folk thereafter when she wanted to challenge President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the presidency of the party is a classic example. Recently, how women in parley deliberated on the noble motion by youthful Yandani Boko on the setting up of a Presidential Commission of Enquiry to investigate issues of Gender Based Violence in Botswana is shameful to say the least. Women are preoccupied with status, power and over inflated sense of self-importance,” Mfundisi said.