… As BDP, UDC vie for BCP members
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) are hovering over the politically death-threatened carcass of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to salvage its members.
The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed that the two parties are now recruiting influential members within the BCP to weaken it further. While UDC is targeting those who are pro-opposition unity the BDP has set sights on those against the decision. Recently an audio tape was leaked in which senior BDP members were overheard recruiting BCP members, a clear indication that the ruling party is on a mission to destroy the party, which once pride itself as mogobagoba (a political giant).
The BCP, which was formed in 1998 as a breakaway from the Botswana National Front (BNF), experienced its worst performance in the 2014 General Elections dropping from being the main opposition party to the minority in the national assembly. The poor performance by BCP saw its leader Dumelang Saleshando losing the Gaborone Central constituency to a UDC greenhorn, something which sent shockwaves in political circles.
Fresh information unearthed has shown a clear plan by both BDP and UDC to recruit BCP MPs for Okavango Bagalatia Arone and Samuel Rantuane of Ramotswa. So intense is the recruitment that the two may be pressured to defect when the November session of Parliament starts. Like others within the BCP, Arone is a strong supporter of opposition unity and is alleged to be feeling aggrieved by those who are against the party joining UDC or having cooperation arrangement with the main opposition. Since the beginning of the 11th session of Parliament, Arone who is one of the most vocal opposition MPs has been quiet, but only sprang to action during the debate of the urgent motion on the power and water crisis currently crippling the country.
Arone was the only BCP MP who attended the press briefing which was called after MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale was literally thrown out of parliament. He called for unity amongst the opposition parties if they are to win the 2019 general elections. According to one member of the UDC team that is tasked with recruiting BCP MPs, Arone was just waiting for the party’s conference, which was held in Kanye in July to understand the party’s stance regarding cooperating with UDC. After the congress, BCP was more divided with some rooting for cooperation while others wanted the once main opposition to go it alone in the 2019 general elections. “BCP is extremely divided and trying to make them join the alliance as one unit might compromise the UDC. It is best we dismantle it,” said an influential UDC member.
During the conference in Kanye, BCP President Dumelang Saleshando reaffirmed his party’s stance to cooperate with UDC, a statement that did not go down well with some party members who said that the conference did not take a resolution to work with UDC. Ahead of the Goodhope-Mabule constituency bye-election some members of BCP central committee wanted their candidate Comfort Maruping to drop from the race and support Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II but the move failed. One of the people who were against the fielding of the candidate is said to be Arone who is also the former BCPYL Vice President.
In an interview Arone said he cannot defect from one opposition party to another. He, however, confirmed that he has always been a strong lobbyist for opposition unity ahead of 2019 general elections. “It is a must that we join UDC or find a way of cooperating with them and I am happy that a resolution has been taken to ensure that opposition unity is realised,” said Arone.
Asked if he will jump ship should BCP somersault on their resolution as they did in 2011, Arone said that he does not see it happening.
Rantuane, who is another target for UDC, is also said to be now developing soft spot for the main opposition and is eager to jump ship, said the source close the quiet Ramotswa constituency MP.
In the 2014 general elections, Rantuane is said to have enjoyed a lot of support from UDC members who helped him win the constituency. A day before the general elections most UDC members clad in party colours joined BCP motorcade in Ramotswa instead of their candidate Roger Mphafe.
Recently some prominent BCP members defected to the ruling party being Secretary General for the BCP Youth League Thato Osupile and their 2014 parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta constituency Ditiro Majadibodu.