Following the UDC NEC meeting that gave BCP councillors and legislators a September 26 deadline to make known their stance, the latter says the ultimatum is a total disregard for its member's democratic rights.
On Sunday Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Duma Boko told UDC members in Mahalapye that their National Executive Committee (NEC) which now includes the newly welcomed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has decided to give the Members of Parliament (MP) and councillors until September 26 to decide where they stand.
Boko said they should write to the UDC and indicate whether or not they will contest the 2024 elections under the UDC.
Boko said in 2018 when Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was expelled from the coalition, councillors and MPs were protected and given a chance to remain in the UDC. He said the same process will be applied in the current situation with the BCP. “If they confirm their interest to contest under the UDC through an official statement then we are good to go.
This is nothing new, we did this with BMD back in 2018,” he said.
Responding to the UDC NEC decision, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesperson, Dr Mpho Pheko revealed disappointment in the decision in a press statement that read that the outcome was no surprise. “This is the type of crass transactional politics we have come to expect from the UDC. It is offensively undemocratic and tramples on the social democratic ethos in the vilest of manners. Above all, it is yet another devious but ill-thought attempt to divide the BCP. This attempt will fail,” further read the statement.
Pheko also said no self-respecting member of the BCP will respond to "this infantile ultimatum". She indicated that Boko has no legal authority to write to the Speaker confirming what he calls “resignation by conduct” in respect of any elected public servant. Pheko added that the BCP is shocked that the UDC dares to dictate to its member parties not to hold primary elections to select candidates in the constituencies they manage. “We reject these undemocratic tendencies with the utmost contempt and urge our members who hold elective office to do the same. It is unfortunate that the UDC is mimicking the BDP which is also considering banning primary elections.
The BCP values internal democracy and will not go the UDC-BDP route of stifling democracy,” she highlighted.
Last month the BCP officially launched negotiation talks with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) for the 2024 General Election, something that started bothering the UDC. The BCP is a member of the UDC alongside the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana People's Party (BPP) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), which was welcomed recently.
For months, BCP has been pulling away from the coalition due to internal fights and issues of democracy. The BCP’s July national conference gave the UDC six months period to rethink its position on important issues like governance, transparency, and accountability.
The AP and the BCP then opened talks on building a democratic and accountable alternative to the BDP and the UDC. BCP even pointed out that the UDC's attitude had forced them to pursue other interested political parties and all stakeholders in Botswana to come together and build a viable coalition ahead of the 2024 General Election.
BCP emphasised that the latest threats from the UDC will do nothing to slow down ongoing efforts towards building a democratic and accountable alternative led by the AP and BCP to contest the 2024 elections. BCP said if anything, "the threats strengthen our resolve”.