Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president Dumelang Saleshando will have to wait a litle bit longer to know his fate in the upcoming 2019 general elections, after consultations in the Francistown West constituency during the week failed to produce the desired results.
Although he has already hinted to hordes of his followers and friends that he will contest 2019 in Maun West, party structures in Francistown have rejected the proposal accusing their umbrella partner Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) who are earmarked to inherit the constituency of being mischievous. The Patriot on Sunday has it on good authority that BCP vice president Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang met party structures and members last Wednesday evening in a closed door meeting at Aerodrome Primary School in Francistown. Gobotswang confirmed the meeting with the party structures in the constituency earmarked to be swapped for BMD’s Maun West. BCP want Saleshando to contest 2019 elections in Maun West.
Despite the confirmation, Gobotswang flatly refused to be drawn into discussing the outcome of the consultation process. He said the BCP executive sent him to consult with the Francistown West members and he is expected to report back on the 5th of May 2018.
“I cannot discuss party internal matters with a third party. It will be inappropriate for me to divulge the general consensus of the BCP members in the Francistown West on whatever subject,” said Gobotswang.
However, BCP Francistown branch chairperson Gilbert Makombo told this publication that indeed they have rejected the swapping deal arguing that it is tantamount to destroying the party. “Once beaten twice shy,” summed up Makombo, referring to previous incidents in which BCP would relinquish the same Francistown West to other coalition or pact partners only to lose members and the constituency. “We once did it. And we had to learn the hard way. We once gave away the constituency to the late Matlhomola Modise during our pact with the now defunct Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) and dismally performed in the constituency,” he said.
Makombo also cited the Whyte Marobela saga that resulted in a lot of confusion amongst the BCP faithfuls in the constituency. He said the BCP had to work extra hard to win the confidence of the voters in the area during the Dr Habaudi Hobona era. “So, our unanimous consensus as the BCP members in the Francistown West is that there is no swapping deal. We are not going to accept the swapping deal. If Saleshando desperately wants a constituency, he can come and stand in the Francistown West,” said Makombo.
According to Makombo, the BMD is negotiating in bad faith. Without divulging the BMD mischief, Makombo said by seeking the swapping deal the Advocate Sidney Pilane led movement has a hidden agenda.
On the other hand, the BMD remains hopeful that the matter will be resolved amicably. For his part, BMD National spokesperson Winfred Rasina said the BCP leadership has communicated to them that they will give a response during the week. The BMD view, according to Rasina, is that the swapping deal will be in the best interest of everyone within the UDC and indeed every Motswana. “Our view is that their agreeing to swapping Maun West for Francistown West so that we at the BMD then give the constituency to BPP not only brings this matter to a rest but ensures that with the limited time left, we can now all concentrate on working for the much needed UDC victory,” he said.
Responding to allegations that they are the big elephant in the room, Rasina said at the moment the political environment in opposition is a bit emotional due to current developments. In a loaded statement Rasina said: "But we do not believe it will be appropriate for the BMD to be blamed for any of this. It will also be utterly irresponsible for anyone to rather than focus on guarding against the BDP recruitment to then look inside the UDC and try to soothe their souls by misdirecting their anger and mourning. We also do not believe that the notion of blaming the BMD anytime a problem arises is a progressive one. The kinds of ongoing scenarios have been happening before the formation of BMD. Otherwise it will be a case of lacking emotional intelligence for us at the BMD to treat such assertions with seriousness. So we will cinsider such assertions to be mere venting. We are of course not happy that everytime there is a situation such as the one we find ourselves in, the BMD is used as a punching bag. It is utterly unacceptable".