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BPF tails up as opposition talks start

CHAKALISA DUBE
Forging ties: Talks are scheduled for this weekend PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has declared its readiness for formal opposition talks that include the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Alliance for Progressives (AP) which begin tomorrow in Gaborone.

Amongst other matters, the parties will explore how best they can support each other during by-elections.

Despite the recent feuding in the opposition, the prospect of a coalition or a formal working arrangement amonsgt the UDC, BPF and the AP has caused much excitement amongst many associated with the opposition.

For example, many opposition activists and political pundits support the view that only a united opposition can remove the ruling party from power.

Mmegi has since established that tomorrow’s meetings will be held with the main purpose of primarily sharing basic information about the possibility of the opposition parties working together or forming some form of coalition leading to the 2024 general elections. In short, the meeting will be used to set the tone for more meetings with reference to unity talks and working together during by-elections. It is anticipated that more intensive unity talks will take place under the guidance of independent political experts.

Yesterday, BPF president Biggie Butale said that his party welcomed the UDC’s proposal that the talks begin soon.

During a press briefing in Francistown last Saturday, UDC president, Duma Boko noted that the aim of the UDC was to start talks with AP and BPF (over working together at the by-elections as well as exploring other ways of working with each to unseat the BDP), this weekend (October 17, 2020).

The BPF has also said that it has already finalised its team of negotiators for the much-anticipated unity talks.

“Our vice president, Caroline Lesang and two National Executive Committee members, Lazarus Lekgoanyane and Reitumetse Aphiri, will represent us at the talks. We have given them the terms of reference for the talks,” Butale said.

Butale added: “Our goal is that by the time we

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go to our congress, which I anticipate will only be held next year owing to the prevailing circumstances brought by COVID-19, we should be able to report to our members the outcomes of the unity talks with the UDC. “Based on the outcomes of the talks, our members will then decide what form of working arrangement we should have with the UDC. The NEC will not impose any decision on the ordinary members.”

He also said beginning the talks early is beneficial because it would enable the parties to resolve their differences early and reach a timely agreement to prepare for the 2024 general elections.

“It is important to start building momentum for the 2024 elections earlier if the opposition wants to win,” he said. 

On the other hand, late on Wednesday, AP secretary, Dr Phenyo Butale said the party was yet to finalise its team for the negotiations. Dr Butale said the AP was also yet to receive a formal invitation from the UDC for unity talks.  “At the moment I cannot say anything substantive because we have not received any communication from the UDC,” he said. 

The AP also recently wrote to the UDC requesting that the two parties meet and explore ways of working with each other during by-elections. However when at the press briefing in Francistown, Boko said that the UDC will propose that the AP be part of tomorrow’s unity talks as well.

The UDC finalised its team for the negotiations last week Saturday. Botswana National Front (BNF) secretary general, Moeti Mohwasa, Botswana People’s Party secretary general, Venter Galetshabiwe and Botswana Congress Party vice president, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang are the three men selected for the talks by UDC.



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