Members of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are busy lobbying for the party to postpone its elective congress slated for July until coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic clears up.
Should the congress take place, some of the topical issues to be deliberated on are coalition with other opposition parties, and the current relationship status. Members believe it is risky to hold the congress amidst the pandemic.
The party is yet to communicate with the constituencies on the matter.
“We will need time to prepare for the congress even to hold our elective constituency congress to choose delegates. This also requires funds that might take us time to find. The constituency committees have not met and some do not have phones that have WhatsApp. Again, the constituencies are supposed to deliberate on issues that the congress is supposed to take stand on,” the source said.
Another source said in different party’s platforms, they had asked the party leadership to look into the issue objectively as the mandate for the current leadership can be extended. The source said the mandate of the old committee could be revised pending the election of the new committee.
“We do not know whether government will lift the rules and regulations of lockdown by June or not. Again, constituencies cannot be given a month for them to have held their congress and subsequently elected delegates. Firstly, the party has to ensure that those structures are there or not,” the source said.
In addition, the source said they did not want to rush the leadership to hold a congress that might be attended by few people. The source said there were matters in the party that needed to be cleared if they continued to be affiliates of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
However Mmegi has learnt of some members of the BCP who feel that UDC is a liability and of those who want the party to continue to be part of the Umbrella.
Some members according to a source are of the view that if BCP pulls out from the UDC, voters will punish it harshly in 2024.
The BCP secretary general, Phillip Monowe said they have not discussed the issue of whether to postpone the congress or not at leadership level. “If the movement of people will be allowed, then party leadership will meet next week to decide on the matter. Of course, we have not written to constituencies because there is no decision that was taken. Even constituency meetings cannot be held if the issue of social distancing is still practised. We do not want to go against the rules and regulations set during COVID-19 pandemic or risk anyone’s life,” Monowe said. He admitted that the constituencies would require time to prepare for congress and therefore a month cannot suffice. He said constituency resolutions were very important because they help the congress to come up with concrete resolutions.
“The congress only debate what has been brought to them by the constituencies. Whatever people think or say now it’s like hearsay to us and we cannot discuss that as central committee or executive committee. Each party has its own structures and if one is our member then he or she must know how to channel things they want to be on the agenda at the congress,” he said.
Monowe said even those who want to contest for party positions would require time to campaign amongst members.