Botswana: BCP's Position On Opposition Cooperation

On the 10th of April 2021, the Botswana Congress Party Central Committee convened a virtual meeting to receive reports on the party program from the National Executive Committee. This was a routine meeting of the central committee at which the state of the organization is reviewed by its leadership and decisions made on the future of the party.

Given some developments within our national political landscape, there are speculations that have been made regarding the future of the Botswana Congress Party in the opposition coalition. The speculations suggest, among other things, that the BCP is planning to exit the Umbrella for Democratic Change and will contest the 2024 general elections as a stand-alone party. We wish to report on the outcome of the central committee to avoid unnecessary speculation.

1. BCP position on Opposition Cooperation

The central committee was briefed on efforts to foster closer opposition cooperation in preparation for the 2024 general elections. Vote splitting in the 2019 general elections was still a reality for the opposition. To this end, the central committee resolved that the BCP should fully participate in efforts to unite the opposition and avoid vote splitting in the next general elections. Our commitment to opposition cooperation remains unwavering and we will directly communicate our position to other opposition parties as we embark on the journey to 2024.

2. BCP Constitutional Conference and National Elective Conference

The BCP has been reviewing its constitution and a number of amendments have been introduced in our endeavour to build a truly democratic, transparent and accountable organization that is best positioned to deliver transformative changes to the nation. Owing to the Covid 19 restrictions, it has not been possible to convene a Constitutional Conference, which would be followed by a conference that would elect a new central committee. The central committee directed that the constitutional conference and the national elective conference should be convened during the current year in compliance with the Covid 19 protocols. Barring the unforeseen, the 2 gatherings are highly likely to be convened virtually.

3. BCP National Tour

The central committee resolved that the leadership should undertake a national tour to brief members on an array of issues such as the state of the BCP, state of the UDC, upcoming cooperation talks and the recently signed agreement on by-elections. The first constituency to be consulted will be the Chobe constituency over the coming weekend by our Members of Parliament from Ngamiland region. These briefing meetings are also an opportunity to re-energize the party base and attract new members to the party.

4. Developments at University of Botswana

Ever since the BCP became a part of the UDC, our student branch at UB has always contested for SRC elections alongside other UDC aligned student formations. For the 2021 UB SRC elections, the BNF Mass grouping decided to contest in partnership with Alliance for Progressives student group. Though AP is not a member of the UDC, the BNF for reasons best known to them, excluded the BCP in favour of a non-member. Numerous efforts to resolve the misunderstanding proved futile. This development was a clear attack on the UDC and broad opposition cooperation. That some UDC leaders participated in legitimising the actions of some who undermine opposition cooperation is most regrettable. This however, cannot be the basis for quitting the UDC as some may wish to see happen. We apologise to the nation for the uncouth exchanges between members of the UDC that were triggered by the developments at UB. We can do better as the opposition.

5. Office of the Secretary General

The office of the Secretary General of the BCP has been held by comrade Phillip Monowe. Owing to personal reasons, comrade Monowehas not been able to fully execute the duties of his office and has offered to step down from the office. His offer to step down has been accepted. As we are preparing for a conference that will elect a new leadership in 2021, it has been decided that the party vice president, comrade Kesitegile Gobotswang should assume the full responsibilities of Secretary General until conference elects a new leadership team. We wish to thank comrade Monowe for his selfless service to the BCP whose membership he continues to cherish.

Conclusion

The advent of Covid 19 has scuttled normal political activities. In an endeavour to avoid the spread of the virus, press conferences have been avoided. We will continue to engage the media through other forums to avail details on developments within the BCP which will hopefully diminish the appetite for baseless speculations

Dumelang Saleshando

President, BCP

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