Opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is said to have hit a snag in their efforts to court Alliance for Progressives (AP) into a partnership ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
BCP President Dumelang Saleshando, who has not hidden his preference to join forces with AP rather than Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), is said to have approached the leadership of the progressives to explore the possibility of a coalition.
Sources within the opposition parties have revealed that after being disturbed by the political storm they are going through inside the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), BCP had approached AP for a possible coalition but the two failed to agree on some conditions.
In a press briefing recently, AP President Ndaba Gaolathe said anyone who wants to work with them must approach the party elders. “So far our elders have not informed us if anyone approached them because those are the people who give us direction,” said Gaolathe, without revealing the name of any political organisation that approached them.
BCP is said to be uncomfortable with the involvement of AP elders in the negotiations.
When BMD split with Gaolathe and his group forming AP, BCP labelled them as hypocrites who were not honest when they were being reconciled with Sidney Pilane’s faction. AP has recently indicated that they are not ready to work with the UDC in its current form.
The BCP adopted a resolution at their Bobonong Conference that if the constitution of UDC was not registered with Registrar of Societies they must find ways of working with Botswana National Front (BNF). The Registrar of Societies has since rejected the new constitution, throwing a spanner in the current political storm besieging the UDC.
Since joining the UDC, BCP has had issues with BMD which started with disagreements regarding the running mate of UDC President Duma Boko in the 2019 elections. BCP wanted Saleshando to be Boko's running mate while BMD (at the time led by Gaolathe) wanted the status quo to remain as it was in 2014. At the end, the parties settled for two vice presidents, something that BCP wanted repealed after the BMD split leading to the birth of AP.
Currently BCP and some sections of BNF want BMD to be expelled from UDC, a decision dismissed by Boko who said no one has the powers to expel a contracting partner.
BMD President Sidney Pilane has also dismissed the suggestion that some people want to expel him and his party from the UDC, saying it is just their fertile imagination. “I am not a member of the UDC, and an organisation has no power to suspend or expel a person who is not its member. I participate in the UDC in my capacity of President of the BMD, on the instructions of the latter Movement as its representative in the NEC of the UDC, and in no other capacity. The UDC is not competent to decide who may represent the BMD in the UDC NEC, nor is it empowered to suspend or expel the BMD from the UDC. The relationship inter se of the parties which are members of the UDC as a coalition is a contractual one, and the agreed UDC constitution does not give any contracting party or parties’ authority to suspend or expel another contracting party,” he said.
He called on those who are not happy within the UDC to freely leave the alliance.
BCP is currently divided on whether to leave the UDC or stay put amidst the political differences they have with their contracting partners, especially BMD. Some BCP Parliamentary candidates have revealed that they are against pulling out of the umbrella as they have already printed campaign materials. “Why can’t we sit down with Sidney Pilane and solve our differences because this is not helping anyone at all,” revealed one of the candidates who chose to remain anonymous.
BCP and BNF have drawn up a country-wide political rallies programme in which they will address members together but this is said not to be sitting well with others who feel that BMD and BPP should also be included. Efforts to get comment from BCP Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse hit a snag as he did not respond to the question sent to him through WhatsApp.