The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) will face yet another litmus test when it goes for July elective congress this year.
The party goes to the congress divided between those who are pro and anti-Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) merger.
The BCP is one of the three contracting members of the UDC alongside the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP). Just like at 2015 July congress in Kanye, already there are signs of a divided party over the issue of UDC merger.
“When we went to Kanye in July 2015, the dividing line between the two lobbies was joining, and not joining the UDC. The pro-UDC camp swept the stakes. It appears this time the dividing line is pro and anti UDC merger. Again the pro merger camp will be victorious,” a leading BCP member said.
The BCP Youth League (BCPYL) recently joined the debate when it wrote that the Umbrella model should be abandoned. It said it is a good model, but has a lot of flaws that could easily be exploited by the opponents.
“The BCPYL calls for the disbanding of all parties and formation of one political party which will take on BDP in 2024. We have tried pact, alliance and umbrella, none has yielded state power.
The only model left to experiment is total merger which will eliminate a lot of challenges the Umbrella presented,” the BCPYL said.
It is said those who are anti-UDC merger are only sentimental. They do not see themselves living outside the BCP brand. Already, there are lobby lists doing the rounds for the congress. In one of the lobby lists, Dumelang Saleshando will be retained as the party president and deputised by Daisy Bathusi.
Stephen Makhura is the chairperson, while Akanyang Magama is the secretary general and Dr. Mpho Pheko the deputy secretary general. Maun East MP Goretetse Kekgonegile is the information and publicity secretary while Oral Mosedame is the treasurer.
Another lobby list has Saleshando as president and Bobirwa MP Taolo
One of the founding members of the BCP, Moncho Moncho is the information and publicity secretary. But Moncho has recently posted on social media that he wants the secretary general position of the party.
One BCP veteran expressed surprise at the candidacy of Keorapetse as the chairperson saying, “It’s traditionally an exit position as it is usually occupied by cadres on the verge of political retirement like Batisani Maswabilili and Motsei Madisa-Rapelana. His retirement is too early”.
Contacted for comment, Keorapetse said there are four main items on the agenda, being the discussion of the Central Committee structure by delegates of the Central Committee, elections of Central Committee, the role of the BCP in the UDC and 2019 general elections.
“The first and important one is that the BCP members want to review the constitution to make it effective. They feel that there are certain positions that are missing,” Keorapetse said, giving an example of the position of the organising secretary that was phased out at the 2015 congress.
He added that there is a legal team that is looking at the idea of the duration of the office bearers.
“There are comrades who feel like five years tenure of the Central Committee is very long and it should be reviewed.”
It is said that majority of the BCP members want the term of office to be three years as it was about five years ago.
Lastly, Keorapetse said the delegates will discuss the future of the BCP in the UDC. He acknowledged that there was a proposal of the merger from some party members. He denied that the issue of pro and anti-merger has divided the party.