Perpetual rule, opposition party splits frustrating, says MISA director
Published July 28th 2003 in Daily News, Botswana

Perpetual rule by one political party in Botswana and frequent splits among opposition parties are frustrating, says a local political activist.

Modise Maphanyane, director of MISA (Botswana Chapter) said over the weekend that many people were surprised that there had been no transfer of power from one political party to another in the 36 years of the country’s independence.

"Does this imply that as a country, we are incapable of a peaceful transfer of power from one party to another, as has happened to our neighbours?" he said when officially opening the fourth Botswana Congress Party (BCP) annual conference in Mahalapye.

The gathering was held under the theme: "leading the way for meaningful democratic development." Also, Maphanyane expressed astonishment that local opposition parties had suffered debilitating splits due to power struggles or failure to have a common ideology.

"Because of such splits the country lacks a strong and viable alternative ‘government-in-waiting’. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue." He appealed to opposition parties to halt their mutation and begin to tackle issues that were important and pertinent to Batswana.

State funding of political parties was necessary in a democratic dispensation and could help strength democracy, Maphanyane said.

He requested political parties to assist women and the youth to contest the 2004 general elections as gender equality and mainstreaming would not align themselves unplanned by those in power if the matters were left unresolved.

"It is time that political parties commit themselves beyond ‘just words’, and start showing commitment to these mentioned groups," he added.

Maphanyane said Batswana must think seriously about adopting an electoral system that combined the good aspects of first past the post and proportional representation.

This was because the current system had proven inadequate, he told the audience which included South African, Indian, Namibian, Angolan and Cuban ambassadors.

Maphanyne paid tribute to Batswana who contributed to opposition politics such as Phillip Matante, Motsamai Mpho, Bathoen Gaseitsiwe and Ruth Motsete, among others.

Representatives of the Congress of Democrats in Namibia, Linus Muchila and Rosa Namises, as well as representatives of different local civic organisations also attended the meeting. BOPA