BCP President Dumelang Saleshando and UDC President Duma Boko
The long awaited opposition cooperation talks between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) were postponed for the third time this week owing to internal feuds within one of its cooperating partners, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
WeekendPost has established that the talks have so far been postponed for three consecutive times.
UDC President Duma Boko went on record while addressing the media earlier this year, stating that opposition negotiation talks would commence in April 2016.
Boko was addressing the media on plans that led to signing a Memorandum of Agreement between both UDC and BCP to enable them to officially cooperate in bye elections.
He told the press conference then that “the informal contacts (between him and Saleshando), are a prelude to more formal engagements that we hope to begin and if I may put some time frame to it, the hope is that the beginning of April we may commence these formal discussions between UDC and BCP.”
He added that: “so as I said to you, April we will engage in formal discussion about unity. I have no doubt in my mind that we will succeed. I have absolutely no doubt. And this is an ominous message to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). They must be quaking on their boots as I speak and I know they are freaked out because if there is anything they don’t want to hear and see is in fact this opposition cooperation,” the UDC leader said then.
According to a high ranking source within the cooperating partners at the top table, the talks have been postponed several times – 3 times to be precise and all on account of BMD internal wars. “It is difficult to start. It can’t move. There were a number of postponements made when we were supposed to meet – owing to the BMD. Just recently, we should have met this week on Wednesday but did not.”
The cooperating party official elaborated that BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe, who it seems has lost control of his executive committee, appears to be having deep reservations about the inclusion of Advocate Sydney Pilane in the BMD negotiating team. It is understood that Pilane was roped in by the party national executive which itself is divided among factional lines.
“He has therefore assembled a team of elders led by Kgosikwena Sebele to convince Pilane to withdraw from the team.” So that is the issue really, the source emphasised.
“There is a real possibility that we will drag on and on. We have been postponing this for several times now and we now have to move on,” he pointed out.
“The real problem is that it looks like the BMD does not have a plan for a way out. Most feel that a special congress is the answer. The Mahalapye Women’s wing results were very tight and swung on both factions. It is tricky.”
According to the source, Ndaba is hopeful that if Pilane is removed from the negotiating team he could easily question his membership status at the 2017 party national congress. He said: “but as it stands he (Pilane) is included as a representative of the party and therefore it will be difficult to say he is not a member. He is part of the committee of the National Executive.”
The initial plan was for the unity talks to commence in April through June and allow party conferences to continue uninterrupted from July. The party official revealed that because of the turn of events and delay in the talks, it will be difficult for cooperating parties to report back to their members’ of an outcome or progress of the unity talks, as was initially planned.
UDC, BCP will each dispatch 18 members in the negotiations
The negotiating parties will dispatch 18 members each to the negotiating table. Out of the 18, the UDC will be represented by 6 from Botswana National Front (BNF), 6 from Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), and 6 from BMD.
On the other hand BCP will send its 18 members to the opposition talks. The negotiations will be divided into 3 categories which include one addressing policy issues, the other looking into the issue of constituencies, and another one overseeing governance, constitution and power sharing matters which encompasses legal agreements between the partners. Six members from each party will be enrolled in each category.
Pilane has been roped in on governance and power sharing category which also touches on the legal aspects, and indications suggests that this seems to not sit well with some BMD cadres including BMD President, Gaolathe.
It is also understood that the presidents of the three parties will not make the teams of the negotiating parties and, advice was also extended for parties not to flood the teams with the executive members of the parties as well. It was understood that the executive will only look at negotiation reports from the negotiating teams.
Meanwhile, at the initial stage, new comers at BPP are said to be making serious demands already and indications are that the talks won’t be easy.
When reached for comment UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa acknowledged the delay in opposition cooperation talks but attributed it to recent bye elections. “Bye elections contributed a lot to the delay,” he said. The BCP mouth piece Dithapelo Keorapetse was not immediately available for comment on the matter.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.