The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando says his party is about to contact the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to initiate talks on possible cooperation in future by-elections.
This comes on the backdrop of a dismal performance by the BCP in Good Hope /Mabule by- elections the past week. Contrary to expectation that the BCP would not field a candidate in the by-election, and support the UDC, the BCP went ahead and did otherwise, but was trounced badly managing to get only 385 votes out of the more than 11 000 who voted. The UDC won the constituency by an overwhelming majority of 6152, followed by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party with 4372 votes.
Although Saleshando denies that the UDC had contacted them through a letter initiating unity talks recently, explaining that the contents of the letter were addressing a totally different issue, UDC Publicity Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa maintains they did. “We had written to them requesting them not to contest the Good Hope/Mabule constituency seat, to us that was a building block of unity towards 2019,” said Mohwasa, adding that the UDC is yet to receive a response from the BCP.
Saleshando told this publication that his party had delayed any negotiation with the UDC prior to the party’s national congress but says they are now ready to move. “ As you know we have just come out of party’s national congress, and thought it may be too soon, the by-election issue is the most urgent,” he said.
Asked about his party's stance on cooperation talks and joining the UDC, the BCP President indicated that although it is now common knowledge that his party has reached a consensus to get into negotiation talks with the UDC ,it is too soon to say the exact time when this will happen. “Not yet, it is still early days,” he said ,adding that they will however talk to the UDC about meeting over the issue soon.
The BCP has won 2 seats out of the 5 by-elections that took place after the October general elections last year. Currently there is only one pending possible by-election expected in Lobatse after a UDC councillor for Boswelatlou ward resigned last month. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Spokesperson Osupile Maroba was however not in a position to say when the by-election will be held as they have not been notified about the councillor’s resignation. “The Minister of Local government and Rural development is supposed to issue an election instrument to the commission after being notified about the resignation, until then, our hands are tied,” he said. As things stands, the IEC spokesperson says they have not received anything from the Minister as yet.