Botswana gets fifth female cabinet minister

Gaborone- Botswana (PANA) -- The number of women in Botswana's cabinet rose to five Thursday when President Festus Mogae named Pelonomi Venson new minister of Works, Transport and Communication, replacing David Magang who resigned recently.
This is the highest representation of women in government since the country attained independence from Britain in 1966, and it buttresses Mogae's claim that his government was stretching full length to enlist more women into decision-making positions.
Apart from Venson, there are three women with full cabinet status in Botswana, including Tebelelo Seretse (Trade, Industry, Tourism and Wildlife), Margaret Nasha (Local Government) and Joy Phumaphi (Health).
Another woman, Gladys Kokorwe, is an assistant minister for Local Government.
For a long time Botswana had only two women in the cabinet after Gaositiwe Chiepe became the first female minister in 1974.
She was followed by Nasha who, was appointed under the regime of erstwhile President Sir Ketumile Masire.
Botswana women got a major boost when Mogae came to power in 1998 and promised to promote more females to positions of authority both in the cabinet and the Public Service.
Many have since been appointed Permanent Secretaries and heads of strategic government departments.
The new minister is a former Permanent Secretary at the ministry of Lands and Housing, where she gained a reputation for a no- nonsense and courageous approach in which she even clashed directly with former president Masire.
She was nominated to Parliament after the 1999 elections, in what was seen as a consolation after she lost the ruling party's nominations for Serowe South parliamentary seat to her rival Tebelelo Seretse, whom she now joins in the cabinet.
Venson is a staunch loyalist of vice-president Gen.
Ian Khama, while Seretse is seen as a favourite of President Mogae.
Venson holds the position of deputy secretary general in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

08 november 2001 15:02:00

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