Opposition unity talks that were expected to end in December could be wrapped up next month. Information passed to Mmegi indicated that the committee met last week and yesterday for negotiations to start. The parties have confirmed this.
According to sources, the talks started last year and all the committees tasked with the talks will be making final submissions next month.
However, the critical one that might take time for the parties is the constituency and ward allocation one. This is the issue that contributed to the collapse of the first umbrella talks in 2013.
The committee met at the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) offices. UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that negotiations have already started. When they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation on by-elections early this year, the parties announced that they would be beginning talks soon.
“It is true negotiations started last year and will end soon. If there is anything that the parties would like to share with the media, they will call a press conference.
“Issues about the talks are internal and cannot be shared with the public unless when it is necessary,” Mohwasa said when pressed for more details.
News that talks are almost complete will come as a shock to many as over the past months the parties told the media that talks would continue after some issues were resolved. Central to the delay, it was said, were issues such as Sidney Pilane’s admission into the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
While most believed that the debate over his membership stalled talks, Mmegi has learnt that he has been part of the BMD negotiating team.
Issues that parties are currently negotiating on include the constitution, constituencies, governance and policy. Mmegi has learnt that the opposition kept the media in the dark simply because they did not want interference.
Mohwasa said the conclusion of the talks would pave the way for the holding of UDC congress and finalisation of the UDC constitution.
“The UDC congress can only be held after the opposition talks are completed. Again, we cannot go for the congress when the UDC constitution is still being looked into or it’s part of the negotiations. There are people in the talks who are looking at the constitution.”
Mohwasa said the UDC constitution would also be looked into by regional congresses before a national congress could be held.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesperson, Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that indeed negotiations have started and are progressing well.
“When we have something to share with the media we will communicate. We ask the media to refrain from their fishing expedition of wanting to find out details of what is happening behind the scenes,” Keorapetse said.