BCP divided over opposition cooperation

Nicholas Mokwena - BG correspondent
Monday, 10 August 2015
BCP divided over opposition cooperation

The intention by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to engage other opposition parties for a possible cooperation seems to be sinking the party’s political ship. Inside sources have revealed that the party is currently divided over the decision by the leadership to engage the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) for cooperation talks. “

A solid decision was not taken at the Kanye congress last month regarding cooperation talks with the UDC. BCP members are still divided on this issue. For the leadership of the party to now start talking about the cooperation while we did not make a resolution to that effect, our party is heading for a disaster”, said a source who did not want to be named. At the congress BCP President Dumelang Saleshando indicated that they will engage the UDC to initiate cooperation talks. Saleshando said they will sit down with the UDC and find ways of best working together to take power from the BDP. BCP Secretary General Kentse Rammidi was the first party insider to indicate that BCP needs other opposition parties. This week the BCP Youth League President, Tumiso Rakgare called on the party leadership to move swiftly to initiate the cooperation talks.

However, information reaching Botswana Guardian is that some of the BCP members feel hard done by these utterances by the leadership. It is alleged that the current leadership which was elected at the Kanye congress is putting their interest before that of the general membership, hence the interest in the cooperation talks. It is also said that the party has not had enough time to deliberate on this issue. Another source said, “This issue was not debated enough for the leadership to now publicly speak about it as if an agreement was reached. We were supposed to have at least discussed the best model that would also benefit us. As things stand now we do not have bargaining power, so the issue of constituency allocation might emerge and we would find ourselves in the same situation as in 2011”. UDC is made up of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People's Party (BPP).

It was formed in 2012 after protracted negotiations for the cooperation with the aim of avoiding vote splitting so as to oust the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from power. BCP pulled out of the talks in 2011 after the negotiating parties could not reach an agreement on allocation of constituencies. Now the party is said to be headed for a crunch time as more disgruntled members among them councillors and key activists are said to have threatened to ditch the party effective this week. There is also a tape recording making rounds in the social media allegedly involving the BCPYL Secretary General Thato Osupile who explains that the party is divided over opposition cooperation. Osupile resigned from the party this week on Tuesday. This week former BCPYL President and long time party activist, Lotty Manyapedza revealed that the party is divided. He said BCP members are not happy following the Kanye congress.

Manyapedza who has been suspended from the party with three others for alleged misconduct, argues that if the issue is not dealt with carefully, chances of BCP working with other opposition parties in 2019 look bleak. He said he supports cooperation that is based on ideologies and policies. BCP Information and Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse said they have everything under control. He said the party is not in trouble adding that “people do leave parties each and every day and based on that you cannot say the party is in turmoil. We also welcome people from other political parties but no one has said those organisations are in trouble. Having different views about certain issues does not mean there is chaos. The BCP is intact and our structures are firm and active”.

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