Tensions between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) contracting partners, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana National Front (BNF) over constituency allocation are at their zenith.
It is a marriage gone wrong for the once darlings of the coalition who are now at each other’s throats over two constituencies- Moshupa/Manyana and Mmopane/Lentsweletau. When constituencies were allocated BMD and BNF were to hold bilateral talks on the two constituencies and decide who gets what.
Both parties are fighting tooth and nail to claim the constituencies. In fact, BMD has since indicated that the two belong to it and the party has already announced its candidates for the 2019 general election. On the other hand, BNF would not allow that.
What broke the camel’s back was last week’s pronouncement by BMD on the constituencies.
BMD leadership has made it clear that there is nothing to negotiate about the constituencies because it is a closed matter.
BNF is said to now be preparing to unleash war on BMD regarding some of the constituencies. The BNF would also not allow BMD to try and humiliate it by making pronouncement on matters that are still internal. The BNF is said to also be planning to reclaim Gabane-Mmankgodi which is now under the watch of the BMD. BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa this week quashed claims by BMD.
“The BNF would like to correct the picture that is being created that a resolution has been reached regarding the impasse over the allocation of Moshupa-Manyana and Ntsweletau-Mmopane constituencies as the reports coming from the recent BMD press conference seems to suggest.
“While it is not our position to publicly discuss matters that are a subject of discussion with our partners, in the interest of ensuring that the nation and our members are not confused and fed with wrong information, we are compelled to set the record straight,” Mohwasa said.
Giving a brief history regarding the constituencies Mohwasa explained that after the completion of the Talks with BCP, the old UDC (which then comprised the BMD, BNF and the Botswana People’s Party) got 40 constituencies while the BCP got 17.
At a meeting held to divide the constituencies amongst the old UDC members, the BNF and BMD felt entitled to both Moshupa/Manyana and Ntsweletau/Mmopane, said Mohwasa who is also UDC Head of Communications. “A decision was then made that the allocation of these constituencies be a subject of bilateral (talks) between the two parties.
“It was however not possible to engage the BMD because of the leadership challenges it had then until just recently, which we are all aware of. Ourselves and the BMD hold two divergent and strong views regarding who should manage these constituencies on behalf of the UDC. For the BNF, at present, the two constituencies remain un-allocated.
“We believe a sober engagement between the two parties can assist resolve this matter and avoid the fermenting of tensions within the UDC, which regrettably is the case currently,” stated Mohwasa. He revealed that the holding of bi-laterals by parties within the UDC on matters of common concern will help strengthen unity.
Mohwasa maintained that in acknowledgement of the importance of bi-laterals, the BNF central committee at its most recent meeting, resolved to hold bi-laterals with all its partners within the UDC and the labour federations immediately after the forth-coming Annual Conference, to be held under the theme, “Ensuring BNF Unity Now and UDC Victory in 2019”.
“We would like to appeal to all our partners within the UDC to always engage each other meaningfully and avoid making solo and arbitrary decisions as this has the potential of destabilising the People’s project.
Dealing with our differences in such a manner can lead to others taking the same route, which could lead to anarchy. “We will not agree all the time, but what is important is how we handle our contradictions. The BNF calls upon its members to remain calm and avoid any acts that have the potential to tarnish the good image of the UDC. We remain hopeful that a lasting solution will be found,” said Mohwasa.
BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole maintained that there is no issue. According to Mangole, BNF has 22 constituencies as per the announcement by UDC leader Advocate Duma Boko. He indicated that should the disputed constituencies be given to BNF it would now mean they have 24 constituencies and BMD would have 11 constituencies.
“We have written to BNF stating that they have to make a formal request if they want us to give them the two constituencies just like what Botswana Congress Party did. Without that there is nothing to talk about because those constituencies are for BMD,” he said. Mangole wondered why the BNF would now also want to claim Gabane-Mankgodi and Gaborone Bonnington South.