BDP Reform Agenda Conversation; 22 Discussion Points (Part 2)

Ntuane
Ntuane

Campaign Team, please note I have split the issues into 4 distinct areas (party, government/economic development, electoral reforms and others) These four now remain draft notes for your input and feedback as the campaign team.

You will notice they are  not prescriptive but a jumble sale of ideas to set the tone knowing  you guys  might  have additional thoughts on others that can form the basis  of the reform  conversation our party ought to have.  Only after the issues have been suitably percolated can we share them with a wider circle of democrats  who may wish to  become part of the  extended campaign team for the July congress on the strength of  issues we advocate. 

 

Party


l We  must  advocate for  a strong activist Central Committee  and this means recalibrating our relations with government;  the party must reclaim  its  authority  over  government. The party must lead government and not be subordinate as is the case presently. The voice of the party must be  heard loud and clear   on  every single issue.

l There is need for expansion the Central Committee  from 18 members  to 30  members  through inclusion  of  all 12 Regional Chairpersons to ensure better  oversight  and supervision of structures.

l Alongside  other internal  processes currently underway such as the  very necessary  review of bulela ditswe, and revival of structures, an independent  evaluation of   the 24  October General Elections  is necessary in order to determine why so many  voters rejected us. The evaluation will cover  a broad spectrum  of  the  voting polity and deliver scientific  findings that will inform our way to 2019.

l As we  undertake  a review of bulela ditswe,  a related exercise would be to conduct  a comprehensive  audit of  our membership database for accurate determination of our manpower strength.

For example  can it  be  correct that  we   have 700, 000 members  when  in 2014 general elections we  received 302, 000 votes and  not all of them from members of the party? Can we have such a high number  when the ANC in its last audit  reported 1.2 million activists   out of  a total population of 50 million? 

l We must strengthen  the Policy  Forum  to vet and  report to Central Committee all government  Bills ahead of  tabling before Parliament. Likewise in the case of  public  policy, ahead of  any  unveiling  of   schemes and programmes of government, the Policy Forum  must  accordingly  advise Central Committee as the final political arbiter, for  endorsement.

lPolitical education through regular party work shops and seminars across  the country utilising the vast intellectual capital  produced by the BDP’s education must be revived. Political  education should among others,  re-emphasise  the party and  country’ s  founding  values  such as nationalism  and the merits of  our development model.

l Resources  must be mobilised to maintain,  in between general elections, a minimal presence of one  administrative office in each of the BDP’s  12 Regions plus a vehicle.

l It is evident that pound for pound  the opposition is outboxing us  in public communication. We need  competent spokespersons who will make our voice heard by articulating policies and defending the organisation. 

Governance/Economic Development

l The party through  a strong and activist Central Committee  must   restore  confidence and credibility  in its government  by robustly  addressing increasingly damaging  perceptions/  allegations  of corruption and abuse of public office.

l To demonstrate our commitment to good governance  and zero tolerance for  corruption and abuse of public office,  the long overdue law on declaration  of assets and liabilities must be enacted. This action  will also shield innocent public officers /politicians  from often unfounded accusations of looting. In the eyes of the public, the BDP refuses to bring the law  because the party is protecting looters.    

l We  must re-set  our relations with  labour,  private media, students, the middle class and other disaffected  constituencies through   rapproachment  and other genuine  outreach  initiatives.

l Though government is now seized with the matter,  as  a party we  must amplify  our voice on the imperative of sustainable employment  creation,  moreso to address plight of young people coming out of our  education system.

l Related to above, BCP had  the  best crafted political message  of the preceding elections; the Bring Back Our Jobs idea spoke to every sincere citizen. Unfortunately the message failed to gain traction  because  the 2014  elections were not fought on ideas; and again it was diluted by the  BCP’s fixation with tribalism. But in politics sometimes you must give credit to your opponent. Bring Back Our Jobs is viable and must be pursued aggressively by  government. The many jobs created by our natural resources  in foreign countries must be brought back to ameliorate the situation of  thousands of graduates produced  by our education system.    

l Yes, we have educated our people and developed a sizeable middle class but aspirational  Batswana are growing resentful of being spectators when the economic cake appears to be enjoyed disproportionately  by foreign Asians, white South Africans and even our black African brothers. The BDP  must sponsor  and drive an unapologetic citizen empowerment law that  will facilitate participation of  our own people  in all sectors of the economy including major projects. For  instance an activist Central Committee could have  instructed government  to ensure that of the 25 billion budgeted for the ongoing  Debswana Cut 8  Project, 50% of it be reserved for companies  owned by  Batswana. The same must apply for all major projects but with vigilance exercised to prevent   a revolving door  scenario whereby the same faces and names get empowered.

l We must  explore other  ways of  further empowering  middle class Batswana who should be ambassadors of  our educational  policies, many  having risen from humble  beginnings to  middle class status within  a generation. We must recognise they assist   the state  by paying taxes, relieving the burden  on social services  by enrolling in  medical aid and sending their children to  private schools, among others. For example,  in the case  of highly qualified Batswana middle class  working and working overseas why not allow them  dual citizenship instead of educating them for the exclusive  benefit of  the countries where  they have opted to live? 

l Is it too much to insist that that all  foreign  business  people bidding  for government  tenders should partner with   Batswana on  a shareholding basis stipulated by law? We must learn from bold  countries like Malaysia, Namibia  and others that  have introduced stringent measures to alleviate poverty, create wealth and  jobs for their people. 

l We  must, by way of stimulating economic growth  qualify/ review Bank of Botswana  foreign exchange controls policy   to limit repatriation of  profits accrued by foreign  companies working on government  tenders. Why should  a speculator fly into the country, bid for a government  tender worth  billions, win  it, complete the project, collect his profit and be allowed  to repatriate all of it? Why can’t 50% of  the profits remain inland? A distinction must be made between genuine foreign investors who actually  bring money into the country and speculators who arrive here just to bid for lucrative tenders.    

l Our party suffered a political backlash due to unfinished mega projects but  heads have not rolled. An activist Central Committee  must demand accountability and for heads  to roll when wasteful expenditure occurs resulting in the nation  being short changed.  Examples are Fenygue, Morupule B, SSKA.

l The demand  for better service delivery and greater accountability at local government level, especially in urban centres should be addressed   by introducing  the system of executive mayors.        

 

Electoral Reforms

l Let us conduct  a fresh delimitation exercise  ahead of 2019  General Elections to  create  more electoral districts. Botswana is a vast  country  but  has less constituencies than  countries of comparable and even smaller size such as Mauritius, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.    

l We  must in addition to delimiting additional constituencies introduce an element  of Proportional Representation to attain a more inclusive  and broader representation of  interest  groups in the Legislature. 

l We must  introduce  political party funding. As the  majority party  we will always receive  of the pie. On electoral reforms  we must live with the sober reality that BDP  will not rule forever; as indeed no party does.  However my view is we can still retain office for two more terms(10 years) either on own or in coalition. Should our tenure in power  come to an end  without having introduced key electoral reforms such as PR and party funding we will go the way of the dodo because the new rulers will have no incentive to  oblige us on what  we refused to extend to them over the years. And life in  opposition for  long ruling liberation/independence  parties on this continent  is traumatic. Once out  of power if they don’t go extinct like the dodo, they become pale shadows of their once mighty selves. Known examples are the likes of UNIP in Zambia, MPR in Zaire, Basotho National Party, Malawi Congress Party, KANU in Kenya to name but a few.

 

Other Issues

Note that I have not  touched on issues   of land and housing  which are equally topical and  must  be attended  to  before 2019. I trust as campaign team members you will provide  input on how they can be tackled before we finalise our campaign platform .

* Botsalo Ntuane is the

BDP Secretary  General candidate

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