FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has lost its significance and cannot add value in the country's opposition politics, says an academic.
This is according to political analyst Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao, who was reacting to a recent position by the BMD that it wants to be part of the current opposition unity talks. But the BMD also maintains that it is still relevant to the country’s opposition politics.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Alliance for progressives (AP) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are currently exploring the possibility of working together in the 2024 general election. The above immediate mentioned parties this week signed a memorandum of understanding to work together at the by-elections.
Lotshwao, who is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Botswana (UB) said yesterday, “ It is important to note that before the split that resulted in the formation of the AP, the BMD was a very important component of the UDC. Its importance emanated from its ability to attract and recruit disgruntled BDP members, who although unhappy at BDP could not join any of the old existing opposition parties, as they were unfamiliar with the politics of these parties” He further said: “Nevertheless, the split that resulted in the formation of the AP has damaged the BMD, as it has lost members to both the AP and other parties, especially the BDP. As such, the BMD has lost its strategic importance in the country’s opposition politics and other parties in the opposition can do without it.”
Lotshwao argued that while the BMD may have some seasoned and experienced leaders, it simply has no numbers to make any significant contribution to the opposition going forward.
“Even if some BMD leaders are ready to work with the UDC, I think some members of the BMD would not be ready to work with UDC, as they believe that the UDC leadership mishandled the internal differences that culminated in the split. I won’t be surprised if many BMD people retrace
Another political analyst Adam Mfundisi who is also a lecturer in politics and administrative studies at he UB said that opposition parties could still do well without the input of the BMD.
“The party (BMD) is weaker than ever. It is facing an existential threat as its membership has dwindled since 2019. It does not have functioning leadership structures and processes to propagate its policies. This party has been overtaken by events and it’s no longer relevant in the current political landscape,” said Mfundisi.
He added, “The opposition bloc that has recently been formed is the way forward for opposition politics. The AP is a viable and strategic partner in the opposition collective.”
According to Mfundisi, because of the acrimonious duel between the BMD factions, which led to the breakaway of the BMD, and the formation of the AP in 2018, it would not be ideal for the BMD to be welcomed into the current talks.
“It will be a tall order for the bitter rivalries (AP and BMD) to participate in the opposition unity talks at the same time,” he further posited.
Although the BMD has expressed a desire to join unity talks with the UDC and other opposition parties, the UDC has said that it cannot say anything about the BMD being part of the unity talks until there is something tangible that has been formally put before it (by BMD).
The UDC, an opposition coalition between the BPP, BNF and BCP, coordinates the current opposition unity talks. The UDC has also said that its main focus at the moment is to solidify its working relationship with BPF and AP.
There is also a swelling public perception that it will not be easy to welcome the BMD into opposition talks because of its perceived strange relationship with the AP and BDP.