SELEBI-PHIKWE: The campaign team meeting of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate for the secretary generalâ€™s position, Botsalo Ntuane on Saturday has given his party reforms strategy a thumbs up.
Attendants who comprised delegates from Selebi-Phikwe, Bobirwa and Mmadinare constituencies said the reforms Ntuane is talking about in his campaigns are exactly what the doctor ordered for the party to survive.
Delegates also pledged to support any chairman candidate who aligns to Ntuane’s strategy. Ntuane will be battling it out against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri and Olebeng Ngwakwena for the secretary general’s post.
Addressing the meeting, Ntuane said once in office he would call for reforms such as the expansion of the central committee and the automatic entry of regional chairpersons as central committee members. He added that each region must have an office, its own staff and vehicles while some duties should be outsourced from headquarters to these office.
“Let us take the party to the people. Why should membership cards be done in Gaborone alone while regions can manage this better?” he wondered.
Calling for membership audit, Ntuane added that there was need to engage an independent consultant to tour the country and evaluate the dismal performance the party suffered in the last general elections.
Ntuane noted that the party approached the last general elections heavily bruised by a sour relationship with the civil servants, trade unions and the private media, and this had alienated the swing vote.
“We need to mend these relationships going forward and address their concerns because we cannot afford to face 2019 elections under this tense atmosphere,” he added.
He also noted that electoral reforms are important, adding that all political parties must be funded to nurture democracy. “Proportional representation must also be introduced as it will help parties to maintain their existence and prevent them from merging,” he said. The aspiring secretary general called for a delimitation exercise to increase wards and constituencies before 2019.
Ntuane said the party still has a window of opportunity to retrace its steps and prepare for the coming general elections given the so unimpressive performance it suffered in the last general elections.
He noted that in 1994, the BDP had suffered a loss of support and in that instance, had immediately embarked on reforms ahead of the 1999 elections.
These reforms, Ntuane said, included a constitutional review limiting presidential tenures to two terms, introduction of external voting, introduction of ballot papers and introduction of a 35-year age limit for members of the party’s youth league.
“We are currently facing the same dilemma now and it cannot just be business as usual within the party. The party is not ruling; but government and civil servants rule the country. We want a central committee that can run this country,” he added.
Members of his campaign team endorsed the ideas and said they are long overdue. They said the party needs these reforms as it is currently badly bruised.
“We are no longer ruling as BDP,” said one attendant. They also praised the call for a membership audit, saying at present, some democrats had more than five membership cards, which opened up the possibility of fraud in primary elections.
“The party head office must relieve itself of some responsibilities and outsource them to the regions. It’s role must be to ensure proper monitoring,” they said.