UDC–BCP unity talks complete

SHARE   |   Monday, 17 October 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
UDC–BCP unity talks complete

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) have reportedly completed their coalition negotiations and they are due to make a formal announcement next week. The negotiations followed the 2014 General Elections where the performance of the opposition parties surpassed the ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as they gained 54% popular vote. Sources close to the talks have revealed that the two parties have agreed on all the proposals brought by all the parties and managed to compromise where there were clashes. One of the issues that were expected to give the party leaders headache was the allocation of constituencies; an issue that led to the collapse of the talks in 2012. The UDC, which represents three political parties Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), agreed that incumbency must be the starting point for negotiations with BCP.

In 2012 the talks collapsed as the parties couldn’t agree on the issue of incumbency with BCP arguing that BMD cannot use it as they defected from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), thus the party had not been tested in general elections. The talks would later continue and led to the formation of UDC excluding BCP, which subsequently performed poorly in the elections. Incumbency and performance of the party in a particular constituency in the 2014 general elections will be used to determine the parliamentary candidate. According to information gathered by this publication, BCP has been given 17 constituencies including the two they are currently occupying. Some of the constituencies given to BCP include Selibe-Phikwe West and East, Ramotswa, Okavango, Chobe, Bobonong, Maunatlala/Lerala and Palapye.

Gaolathe, Saleshando to deputise Boko
A task force led by Advocate Sidney Pilane made some amendment on the UDC constitution which will be adopted by the delegates at the congress. The amendment to the Constitution is said to have been necessitated by the coming on board of BCP and to address the concern that the National Executive Committee (NEC) is too bloated and to address the issue of direct membership to UDC. One of the key amendments to the Constitution is the provision for the party to have two Vice Presidents and that will be extended to government should UDC take power. Should the amendment be adopted by the party congress, Saleshando and Gaolathe will become deputy presidents to Boko and his running mates in 2019.

UDC congress
The two negotiating parties have agreed that the party should go for a congress next year which will not be an elective one. “This is a very delicate matter and we cannot risk it by holding elective congress which might end up dividing us,” said one of the members of the negotiating teams. UDC head of Communications Moeti Mohwasa said the talks are on the right track and he hopes that they will be concluded by the end of October.
“The talks are still on on-going and on the right track. We are hoping that they will be concluded by end of October,” said Mohwasa.