Botswana Congress Party (BCP) seems to be softening its hard-line stance against opposition party cooperation, that is if the recent pledge to support the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the January 31 by-elections is anything to go by.
The by-elections will be contested in three wards of Moshupa West, Goodhope and Ngware. BCP will only contest the Moshupa West ward and pave way for UDC to contest against ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the remaining two wards. BCP Secretary General Kesitegile Gobotswang told the Press recently that they had held consultations with relevant structures in the wards they won’t be contesting and decided to support the UDC.
Now the question is if the UDC manages to overcome the ruling BDP with the help of the BCP in the two wards, will this not be the right path for BCP to really consider cooperation talks with UDC. BCP pulled out of the UDC, a coalition by the opposition Botswana People`s Party (BPP), Botswana National Front, (BNF) Botswana Movement for Democratic Change (BMD) that was formed in 2011 to topple the ruling party that has ruled the country since 1966.
When explaining some of their reasons for pulling out, the party leader Dumelang Saleshando said, “It must be understood that the Umbrella model did not require the negotiating parties to disband. The plan was to have the BCP, BMD, BNF and BPP to continue existing as independent political formations that would minimize competition amongst them but rather promote the interests of the umbrella party that they will all be members of.
The reality is that the parties are not ready or willing to disband and belong to a completely new animal with no reference to their old names, colours, symbols and slogans.” The other burning issue behind BCP`s pullout was the allocation of constituencies between the parties. “As was to be expected, when the four parties negotiated the allocation of constituencies, each sought to protect their interests with vigour.
Their individual interests clashed and there was no agreement on how to settle the disagreements,” said Saleshando when reflecting on the successes and failures of the year 2011. Now that these appear to be water under the bridge, could the latest gesture signal a change of heart on the part of the BCP? Speaking to the media recently Gobotswang said: “We cannot afford to waste our limited resources in the wards that we know we cannot win.
We will only encourage our supporters in Ngware and Goodhope to support the UDC that has the chance of winning. We cannot just contest for the sake of contesting.” Efforts to reach Gobotswanag were futile at the time of writing. The by-elections follow the tie between BCP and BDP at Moshupa West ward, and tie between BDP and UDC in both Ngware and Goodhope wards.