Amid the political confusion within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which many political pundits believe will tear it apart, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is staying put.BCP President DumelangSaleshando has dismissed allegations that his party will bolt out of the umbrella after the failed meeting which many believe was meant to suspend Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the alliance.
In an interview with this publication, Saleshando said that they are contesting the 2019 elections under UDC as per the resolution of the Bobonong Conference.“There is no uncertainty regarding our membership of the UDC and nothing is going to make us leave the UDC,” he said.
Justifying the continued use of BCP colours by some of their parliamentary candidates, instead of those of the UDC Saleshando said that should not cause any alarm as it part of the transition from contesting elections as a single entity to being members of the coalition. “We will continue to encourage our candidates to use the UDC colors,” he said.
One of the issues that is said to be acidic to the UDC, is the toxic relationship between BCP and BMD which has seen the leaders of the two parties and their members squaring up in public dismissing each other.Asked if they are ready to work with BMD, Saleshando said that they are ready to come up with a workable solution ahead of 2019 general elections.When asked if workable solution means expelling the BMD from the coalition, the BCP president was very diplomatic choosing to say “one way or the other we must reorganize the UDC.”He was rather evasive when asked if they are ready to reconcile with Pilane and work together ahead of the 2019 elections choosing to say they are ready to find a solution for the troubles bedeviling the UDC.
“We will see that on Wednesday. The UDC President Duma Boko has promised to address the media after the meeting of the leadership. For now let’s just wait and see,” said Saleshando.
BMD is said to have put their demands on the table saying BCP must retract their statement that their members will not vote for BMD candidates next year.“BMD want them to make a public apology as they believe BCP are not showing commitment to regime change if they talk about sabotaging their contracting partners,” revealed a BMD member.
BMD and BPP are said to have also called on BCP and BNF to immediately stop their joint countrywide rallies which they say are divisive.“Ahead of the meeting BPP showed that they agree with us that BMD should be suspended from UDC but during the meeting they changed their stance and jumped to Pilane’s camp” revealed one member who attended the meeting.
Saleshando dismissed allegations that Alliance for Progressives (AP) recently rejected BCP proposal for a coalition in the 2019 general elections, saying he only had informal discussions with its President NdabaGaolathe about the current situation within opposition parties.Gaolathehad recently claimed thatsome opposition parties approached AP for a possible coalition but said he referred them to the party elders.“Yes we discussed the issue of cooperation but that was just informal as I was not mandated by BCP to negotiate with AP.I don’t think they mean us because ours was just informal talks between two leaders and cannot be construed as formal talks,” he said.