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BCP’s troubled journey to Bobonong

Kesitegile Gobotswang PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: Although rifts have recently rocked the parent Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) goes to Bobonong claiming that it is very intact, albeit troubled by the latest developments.

BCP vice president, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang conceded this week that the party that is known by its sobriquet, mogobagoba, goes to Bobonong, “frustrated and anxious because of what within the BCP we see as a serious paralysis within the umbrella UDC”.

The UDC peace was recently disturbed after BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando took Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president Sidney Pilane head on for disturbing UDC progress in the opposition block’s WhatsApp group conversation, which was leaked to the public.

At the centre of the BCP concerns is that the UDC constitutional amendments that were made last February at Boipuso Hall must have long been implemented by now.

“Specifically, we want a revised UDC constitution that fully embraces the BCP. At the moment, we understand politically, we are part of the UDC as per the negotiation agreement,” Gobotswang explained this week.

He was steadfast that the BCP legal standing is debatable, “so we are constantly reminded by some of our partners that we are not quite UDC members as a party”.

When that is said by the legal minds such as the person of the BMD president, Pilane, Gobotswang indicated that could not be taken lightly.

For the BCP delegates going to Bobonong without a UDC revised constitution, they will be a bit challenged, as articulated by Gobotswang.

He could not even anticipate what action the BCP delegates will take at the conference that he describes as very important as its decisions are binding. The BCP has shifted from congresses to conferences.

He quickly acknowledged that the dominant discussions in Bobonong are going to be the UDC and the way forward.

From a quick assessment of the debate within the party, Gobotswang has been able to deduce that there are three streams that will set the tone of debate within the BCP.

The first group, he said, acknowledges that the problems are there in the BCP, but feel strongly that leaving the UDC is not an option for now.

The second stream also acknowledges there are problems in the UDC, but the feeling here is strong that the BMD led by Pilane is the source of turmoil especially its leader.

The way forward for this group is a re-alignment of the parties. This means for them the main strategic partner remains the

Botswana National Front (BNF). They insist that any re-alignment should chiefly be between the BCP and the BNF and nothing less.

The third stream peddles the leave campaign. They are saying the UDC problems cannot be fixed. They also hold a very strong feeling that their relationship with the Pilane-led BMD has become irreconcilable.

They have a feeling that their continued membership of the UDC could tarnish the good name of their party, the BCP.

The ball now is in the party leadership’s court to strike a balance and come up with a solid position.

“As for us the BCP leadership, we are going to give the conference delegates in our closed sessions, any information that they will need for them to make informed decisions,” Gobotswang stated.

Information coming from the BCP regions, which could be used as a yardstick to test the mood of the conference delegates, presents a contradictory picture.

“The party regions have started converging and their wish is that they still want to give the BCP a chance with proposals for the party to hold a special conference with set timelines.

“It’s at the party’s proposed special conference that determinations will be made as to whether the BCP should really belong to the UDC. If the UDC can fail to produce a revised constitution, which includes the BCP that could be the last straw that might break the camel’s back.

 “The way the people continue to debate party issues, they are not angry with the party leadership, but mainly that things have not been moving. They appreciate that delay lies elsewhere,” he noted, indicating that such debates are cordial.

If it was not for many issues the party is currently grappling with, the BCP conference was going to focus more on the preparations of the cadres for the 2019 general elections.

The BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando will use the conference to rally his troops ahead of next year’s elections.

The BCP conference is expected to attract about 800 or more delegates given the nature of the latest developments in the political space and the UDC in particular.

At the conference, the BCP will duly launch the party’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The party’s first president, Michael Dingake will be recognised with a commemoration of his 90th birthday.





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