Saleshando attacks and praises Mogae


Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando, says if president Mogae was to meet former president Mogae, they would not recognise each other.

In response to Mogae’s calls for electoral reforms Saleshando said: “Throughout his term of office, President Mogae was opposed to calls for electoral reform, particularly calls for the change of the electoral system.  His opposition was captured succinctly in his address to the BDP National Council in 2007.   The key reasons he advanced were that the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system continues to serve us well by delivering stable governments and the Proportional Representation (PR) takes away the direct link between MPs and the voters and places too much power in the hands of the party leadership.”

The BCP, Saleshando says, has always taken the position that there is need to change the electoral system. “A system based on proportionality allows for the national mood of the voters to be truly reflected in the National Assembly. From the 2014 election results, only 46 percent of voters chose the BDP, the electoral system awarded the BDP 65 percent of the seats in Parliament. 

This outcome of a Parliament that does not reflect the voting preferences of the electorate has always been a feature of our electoral contest and could be the reason why the sitting presidents have always been opposed to electoral system reform. 

It is more out of self preservation than promoting the entrenchment of multi party democracy,” charged the BCP leader.

What does the BCP prefer? Saleshando says the BCP favours the Mixed Member PR, which allows for some members to be elected through constituencies and others to enter Parliament through the PR system. 

“The key benefit is that the country will enjoy the benefits of the two systems.  The direct link between MPs and the constituents is maintained while the seats allocation in the National Assembly reflects the voting patterns in the country.”

Countries that use FPTP always struggle to attain any semblance of gender balance. “Old democracies that use the FPTP system like the United Kingdom have low women representation in their legislatures. 

The current UK House of commons only has 29 percent female MPs.  Within our own region, new democracies such as South Africa and Namibia have been able to roll back the scourge of political marginalisation on the basis of gender by adopting proportional representation,” advises Saleshando.

Saleshando slams Mogae saying: “President Mogae was aware of this fact but closed his eyes to it as it was in the interest of the BDP.  Instead, President Mogae chose to blame Batswana women for the limitations of the system he supported, as reported in the Mmegi of 15 March 2006, which was an act of intellectual dishonesty.  ‘Why do they not elect more women representatives? Why? Why, I ask you the women of Botswana,’ said President Mogae at the time,’” Saleshando said in his response to Mmegi.

However, the BCP leader welcomes Mogae’s change of heart. “Though belated, the change of heart by Mogae should be welcome.  He should be encouraged to do more to campaign for what he failed to deliver on when he had the opportunity. He is now free of the narrow partisan interests that prohibited him from charting a route that would have advanced our democratic credentials.”


Mogae is genuine – UDC

UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa is of the view that Mogae is genuine and needs to be applauded for speaking the truth.

“The former president’s intervention although belated should be welcome by all those who dream of a better Botswana. 

While he has made mistakes in the past we believe that his voice of reason should enlighten those who are still clinging to darkness and leading this country to the dogs,” he said. Mohwasa says while Mogae is merely rubberstamping what the opposition have been saying all along, his outcry should not be taken lightly or dismissed by those who hold power. “We are still hopeful that calls for electoral reforms will someday take effect, “ he said. “However we are equally concerned by some elements in the ruling party who chant reforms to disguise and gain popularity. We call on the nation to be wary of these people.”


Emang Basadi on Mogae

A women’s human rights organisation committed to the principles of equality, justice and peace applauded Mogae for his progressive views. “We concur with the former president, Mogae on the issue of quotas for women in politics, like he rightfully said, it is high time Botswana constitutionalises  the quota system. The electoral system needs to be reviewed and policies commit to gender equity.  We want commitment to international conventions and domestications of such,” said Emang Basadi coordinator, Segametsi Modisaotsile.  Giving Mogae the thumbs up, Modisaotsile said this move would compel political parties to implement the quota system even at party structure level. It will also “educate and train women to take up party funding to be implemented and women be given equal financial support as men” said the Emang Basadi coordinator.


BDP women’s wing responds

The leader of the women’s wing of the ruling party, Dorcas Makgato, said the BDP doesn’t have a position on the quota system.

“What I know is that we are concerned about women representation across the board and not only in politics.  Statistics show that we have improved in other areas save for politics and it is something that we are working into,” she said.

Makgato said in its 10-point agenda, the BDP women’s wing discussed the importance of political education and empowerment and resolved to establish a political education committee to drive the issue.


The ruling party-BDP

The voices of Mogae and Masire continue to reach out to the nation. However, it is not clear how they are being received by decision makers.

While the party’s chairman, vice president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, recently said that they might be speaking out of old age, the BDP’s secretary general, Botsalo Ntuane, said: “Our position as a party is not to contest or interrogate any views or opinions expressed by bagolo (elders), unless there is a compelling reason to. So we decline to comment save to note what has been said.”

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