FRANCISTOWN: The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) might be thrown into further turmoil following reports that the Botswana People's Party (BPP) is not willing to allow the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to contest council ward elections in Francistown West at the 2019 general elections.
The BCP and BPP together with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana National Front (BNF), are partners in the UDC.
A few months ago, the BCP resolved to give the BMD the Francistown West constituency in exchange of Maun West. The BMD later handed the constituency to the BPP. The BMD had indicated that the BPP would only contest the parliamentary elections in Francistown West while the BCP was to contest elections in five wards within the constituency at the 2019 general polls.
Francistown West has six council wards. The BNF was to contest elections at the sixth wards.
However, indications from sources within the UDC suggest that the BPP now wants to field some candidates in some of the wards in Francistown West.
Mmegi has established that so far, the BPP has approached two people with a view of convincing them to contest the 2019 general elections under its banner at Botsalano and Kanana wards respectively.
Negotiations with prospective candidates are reportedly ongoing. Disgruntled BCP members are of the view that the BPP is doing things in bad faith, as it does not have structures to win the ward elections.
At the time of going to press, some BCP members were reportedly on the verge of approaching their central committee to intervene. Yesterday, BPP secretary general Venter Galetshabiwe said that his party enjoys the liberty to determine ward candidates within Francistown West. “Francistown West was handed to us unconditionally. The constituency is now entirely in our hands. We call the shots,” he said. He added: “We have not approached anyone to represent the party at the ward elections in Francistown West as implied, but our intention is to look for candidates. We, however, intend to give our coalition partners some wards to contest within the constituency. If at all they are not happy with what we give them, we will see what to do”.
The BCP had reportedly lined up candidates to contest for the five wards it had been given at the next general elections. Still yesterday, BCP vice president Kesitegile Gobotswang told Mmegi that to the best of his knowledge the BCP was to contest all wards in Francistown West with the exception of one that was given to the BNF.
“If the BPP has any concern with regards to the allocation of wards in Francistown West, they will raise the matter at the right platform,” he said.
There was no readily available comment from the BMD. The party secretary general, Gilbert Mangole said that he would respond when he arrives from Belgium later today. This is the second time in recent weeks that reports suggesting that affiliates of the UDC are fighting over fielding of candidates for national elections are coming out. Recently the BNF and BMD were fighting over the Moshupa-Manyana constituency ahead of the just-ended by-election in the area.
BMD reportedly wanted to field Jonathan Sethono for the by-election while some BNF members insisted on Ngaka Monageng who contested in the area in 2014 to represent the UDC.In 2014, BMD loaned BNF the constituency because they had no candidate. Following a vacancy for a by-election that was necessitated by the ascendance of Mokgweetsi Masisi to the presidency of the country, the BMD wanted the constituency back. The BMD reportedly reasoned that it has found a candidate who could represent UDC in the by-election. The BMD succeeded in its plans to field Sethono at the by-election.
The UDC loss at the elections was partly attributed to the differences between the BMD and the BNF.
There have been reports in recent months suggesting that the UDC is headed for a collapse owing to some vast differences amongst leaders of the coalition and the general membership.