Convenors divide opposition parties


Opposition parties are divided on whether there is a need to engage convenors in the coming critical opposition cooperation talks. Some party leaders assert that the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) does not need convenors because it already has systems that could accommodate any model that other opposition parties that want to cooperate with them may propose.

On the other hand, others believe that the convenors will ensure that talks go smoothly without any bias. Some opposition parties that will engage in talks include UDC, Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). Other parties, however, believe that convenors may bring confusion to cooperation talks and end up taking sides during the talks, which might ultimately cause conflict.

One of the sources close to the negotiations told Mmegi that as the UDC, they learnt this the hard way when the coalition was having internal problems. Mmegi has learnt that the negotiation team starts on October 15, 2021, and the parties are hopeful that the talks will be completed in January 2022.

In an interview with the chairperson of the opposition cooperation talks forum, Margaret Nasha yesterday, she said the parties will select the names of people who they want to be convenors. “It should be understood that I am not part of the negotiation team. Each party will choose one or two members to represent them at the talks. The convenors will conduct the talks and they will make sure that everything goes smoothly. In the meantime, the negotiation forum will be making a detailed document on how the parties will keep on working together. We hope that by January 2022 there will be progress on cooperation talks,” Nasha said. One of the members within the forum who did not want to be named said: “We do not need convenors, because each party knows what it wants.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was able to join UDC without any middleman. It knew what it wanted. Mind you, some convenors by then did not want BCP and they felt that they were bigger than the parties and wanted to call the shots. We do not want a situation where there are three centres of power. Political parties should be the ones carrying the mandate which they took from their members.” The source said the negotiation team is supposed to have finalised a lot of work by December 2021 and by January 2022, they should be attending to minor issues. UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said they have agreed to keep their negotiations away from the media and the public and they will only share information as and when it becomes necessary and this will be done through either press releases or press conferences. "We, therefore, cannot comment on the issues raised as I have already indicated there will be confidentiality in our talks. This is meant to protect the whole process.

What I can, however, say is that as announced, the negotiating teams from the parties under the chairpersonship of Nasha will meet this month.” University of Botswana political science lecturer Mokaloba Mokaloba said there is a need for opposition parties to consider engaging convenors on their cooperation talks. “They need to have formal talks and it could be done by some people who have sober minds. Those people should not be affiliated to any party so that they could be able to advise parties without taking sides.

Some party members may overlook important things when negotiating and some may fail to represent the party fairly. Cooperation talks should be taken seriously by both parties because failure to do so, some may opt-out from the talks,” he said. He added the parties need to start cooperation talks this year so that they may address issues of constituencies well in time.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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