Botswana Congress Party (BCP) officially opened their 10th National Conference at Matshekge Senior School in Bobonong amid overtones of a possible umbrella exit as party President, Dumelang Saleshando, emphasized the need for a formidable partnership with Botswana National Front- away from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Saleshando said the conference needed to come up with a resolution in the light of the internal bickering in the UDC coalition. “Can one member of the collective, in a short period lead us down the path of total destruction,” he asked in an apparent veiled jab at BMD’s Sidney Pilane.
The rickety relationship between the two leaders recently played out in public following a leaked social media spat that almost spiraled into profanities
Saleshando said the UDC needs to assume a new shape and achieve its founding principle of uniting all opposition parties.
He said that the current instability within the UDC must not be allowed to be a basis to kill the aspirations of many Batswana who see a united opposition as the only hope for a change of government.
“Let us use this meeting to recommit ourselves to opposition unity and propose resolutions on how the united opposition can ensure that we bring back those who have walked out of the UDC and bring back the trust that the trade unions used to have in the UDC.”
He said that if all fails, rather than opting for the exit door, they will need to reach out to the BNF for possible options. “The truth is that the opposition votes that the UDC hopes to attract in 2019 are concentrated around the BNF and BCP. If the UDC does not survive the dark cloud that has engulfed it, we need to look for the silver lining around the dark cloud, which may be a BNF- BCP driven cooperation.”
He added that the new cooperation will mobilise other patriotic formations to rally around it.
He said that the two parties, given their ideological bonds that bind them together, have more to lose by not going into the 2019 elections as a single unit.
Saleshando said that some have asked why the two have not considered merging and avoid the perils that bedevil loose coalitions fashioned along the Umbrella model. “This is a matter that we need to give serious thought to, if not now certainly in the near future. Mergers are more stable than loose cooperation models,” he said.