FRANCISTOWN: Despite the recent political hullaballoo raising doubts about the viability of the opposition unity project under the ambit of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Congress Party's (BCP) Kesitegile Gobotswang, has rubbished such development.
The BCP was also troubled by reports that one of its contracting partners at the UDC, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) claimed that they did not recognise the BCP as a partner because the constitution did not recognise it as well.
This is not a new story, but the matter continues to sow seeds of confusion as unity talks between BCP, BMD, Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP) continue.
Speaking to Mmegi this week, Gobotswang, who is BCP vice president, has no doubt that everything is under control as parties to the unity project have a very strong platform of consultation.
The former University of Botswana (UB) academic, Gobotswang is elated that even though there could be Doubting Thomases to the viability of the unity project, consultations and negotiations continue to show that people might differ but “we are one”.
He said all the endorsements to amend the UDC constitution are a culmination of proper consultations. He explained that the UDC transition team was given the assignment to chart the way forward and February this year, a new constitution was circulated and nobody stood against it at the Boipuso Hall in Gaborone.
Even BMD president, Sidney Pilane who is alleged to not recognise the BCP membership of the UDC as per recent media reports, according to Gobotswang, has partaken in the process of tailoring the newly constituted constitution.
Gobotswang presented the new constitution on behalf of the UDC whereupon the congress did its part to endorse the corrections to the constitution.
He further indicated that the final draft, which has incorporated the views of the congress, is going for finality to the UDC national executive committee meeting billed for May 25, 2018. He described the congress as the voice of the people and definitely like-minded people will not ignore such a development. Meanwhile, the BCP is gripped by accusations that it has failed to properly consult with its structures at the Francistown West constituency where they have concluded a swapping deal with the BMD.
BMD is a contracting partner at the UDC and Gobotswang insists that people were widely consulted on the swap, but insists that even when consultations were concluded bilateral talks still continue.
“Our people at Francistown West feel that they have not been
He highlighted that they (BCP leadership) decided to withhold some information and started approaching some of our members, but information unfortunately was already leaked.
“It’s correct that we didn’t do as intended. We apologised that we didn’t go ahead with our proper consultations as information was leaked before we could reach out to our members.”
Despite the leak in information, the BCP leadership has already written to the BMD agreeing to the proposal for constituencies swap.
Initially, the BCP leadership had preferred to trade off Maun-West constituency for Nata-Gweta constituency, but the BMD preferred the Francistown-West that they wanted to allocate to the BPP which is currently aggrieved that it was has been allocated three constituencies whilst they demanded about seven.
“The swap deal has been finalised by now although this was not our ideal move,” he said.
The BCP Francistown-West constituency party members are not okay with the swap as some feel strongly that they have not been properly consulted.
“We are going to take them through a counselling process. We need to go back and talk to as many people as possible that we targeted,” Gobotswang said.
He added: “The best thing for us is to target wards and other structures. One thing good for us is that the BCP has council candidates in all the wards in Francistown-West in exception of one where there is a Botswana National Front (BNF) candidate for 2019 general elections”.
As for parliamentary hopefuls, veteran Vain Mamela and Maria Kusasa, who have lost an opportunity, had to accept the painful reality that they will not represent their party in Francistown-West constituency come 2019 general elections. The duo had put their very best in preparing for their chances in the constituency only to be told to put it on hold as the area has been given to the BMD.
Speaking about the duo after the party leadership left them in limbo with its decision, Gobotswang said: “They are BCP members and they understand the situation the party finds itself in. They have rich experience and they will continue working for the party as Mamela for instance, is the BCP northern organising secretary”.