FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Patriotic Front’s (BPF) possible face-to-face with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the race for the Tati West constituency in the 2019 general elections may have far-reaching consequences.
It may change the story of the BPF, a party that has vowed to hit the ground running after its recent formation to beat time. BPF is an offshoot of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and it was recently registered.
One of the BPF priorities is to remove the BDP from power by all means possible at the 2019 polls.
Although there is no agreement yet, the BPF has prioritised a possible alliance with the UDC as a means of enhancing its chances of realising its dream of unseating the BDP.
Ahead of its congress in Palapye billed for next week, the BPF has a mammoth task of convincing the UDC to undo its launch in Tati West constituency where Tshepo Makhani was launched to the masses as a parliamentary candidate.
This is one of the issues that are likely to dominate the BPF congress as they face the political future as a political entity.
The frustration gripping the BPF is an imagination of its interim leader Biggie Butale failing to contest for the parliamentary seat this year, or having to contest against the UDC, the party that they have wished would help them unseat the BDP.
A contest between the BPF and the UDC might give the BDP an opportunity to win the constituency again through a possible split of opposition votes.
It’s also worrying that a failure to secure an agreement that will see Butale contesting the parliamentary seat under the auspices of the UDC could also raise doubts about future talks between the two political parties.
It became apparent last week that the UDC had decided to move on with the launch of its candidate despite the wish of the BPF to be given a special dispensation in the area. There was, however, nothing stopping the UDC from pursing their choice.
It has been the wish of the BPF interim leader, Butale to contest Tati West parliamentary seat under the BPF ticket with the possible backing of the UDC. But the BPF being a late entrant into the race for the 2019 general elections, found the UDC already with other plans. This might complicate the plans of the new kid on the political block, if the UDC does not budge.
Although there is no formal agreement yet, the BPF has pledged to support the UDC in areas in which the coalition opposition parties need their support, hoping that the UDC will reciprocate in areas that the BPF need the UDC hand.
Butale, incumbent legislator for Tati West was hoping for another bite on the political cherry in the constituency but his hope almost vanished the moment the UDC, a tri-party coalition decided to launch its candidate, Makhani in Masunga last Saturday. Butale still has high hopes that talks with the UDC might yield good results.
It seems factors have been unfairly conniving against Tati West legislator as his wish to continue as a BDP legislator dashed when his former party, the BDP, suspended him from the party activism ahead of the 2019 polls billed traditionally for October.
He had lost the party primaries and protested, citing a plethora of irregularities. He lost the protest in a matter that saw him suspended from the party.
Out of frustration, Butale exited the BDP and became part of the founders of the BPF. The new party apparently consists mainly of former BDP operatives. The BPF base is mainly in the territory of GammaNgwato and with former president Ian Khama at the forefront of the new party’s formation.
At two previous BPF meetings held in Serowe and a recent one in Kanye, the message harped was that the BPF will work closely with the UDC in order to achieve its immediate wish of unseating the BDP from government.
Despite the gloomy picture emerging from Tati West for the BPF, Butale still sees light at the end of the political tunnel.
“We found the UDC already with candidates in a lot of constituencies even before we were formed and it will be unfair to simply expect the UDC to pave way for us,” Butale explained this week.
He was adamant that his party, “will work out something with the UDC and see what compromise we will come up with”. He would not elaborate.
Although the elections are fast approaching, the BPF is still lagging behind, which Butale blames on the fact that the party is newly formed and is still setting up.
“We will get on track after the Palapye congress when the party would have set up its proper structures, we will be ready to compete,” he assured.
One of the challenges that the BPF will have to grapple with is the issue of resources and Butale promised that his party “will do with the little that we have”.
He was worried that whenever his party engages businesspeople to assist them financially or otherwise, such businesspeople will cry foul that the security agents mainly from the spy agency, Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), threaten them.
Meanwhile, Butale has promised that the BPF will use the Palapye congress to showcase its strength.
Although the BPF is newly formed and registered, Butale described its recent Kanye meeting as one of the crowd pullers and promised that the Palapye one will be much bigger in terms of attendance.
UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa emphasised the point that the UDC position is well known and well documented relating to the BPF wishes.
Mohwasa emphasised that so far, there is nothing official from the BPF regarding a working relationship or anything.
“Where we are, we haven’t received anything from the BPF nor have we proposed anything to them,” he told Mmegi and confirmed that they have heard rumours about the wishes of some people relating to the BPF.