Tough times for opposition parties

Daniel Chida

We will go out to aggressively to create such opportunities in future irrespective of partner in hand. As long as such opportunities are grabbed in a legal manner- BCP SG

On Tuesday, North West District Councillors from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) temporarily put aside their ideological differences and united against a common political foe and ousted the Chairperson, Kebareeditse Ntsogotho and his Deputy, Lekonne Masoko.

The removed leaders were severely punished for choosing the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over BCP in an ongoing political battle between UDC and BCP, which culminated in the suspension of the coalition’s Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando who is also the president of BCP.

The Maun ouster was achieved by a caucus between 10 BDP councillors and 10 from BCP who voted together to usher in the new leadership of Itumeleng Kelebetseng of BCP as Chair and Nico Folae of BDP as Deputy.

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Meanwhile UDC President, Duma Boko had set 31st May 2023 as the deadline for incumbent UDC leaders in Councils and Parliament to declare their interest to contest with a UDC banner in 2024 general elections. This has led to number of councillors and Members of Parliament defecting from BCP to UDC.

The Voice staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engages, Political leaders and analysts to see what the new NWDC coalition means and also if there is a possibility of it being put to use in the coming by elections and general elections.

  • Mokaloba Mokaloba- Political Analyst

The BCP and BDP coalition is just a heat of the moment that speaks to the increasing tension between the UDC and the BCP. I do not see any possibility of the BCP working with the BDP.

It is a normal game of hurting each other between the BCP and UDC but unfortunately to opposition politics the BDP is benefiting from it. A divided opposition is always a win for the BDP and this is the case example.

  • Goretetse Kekgonegile- BCP Secretary General

It must be noted that what happened in North West was not an Executive instruction but an initiative of North West Councillors having assessed their political and development terrain of the North West. Of course the party gave them a go ahead. It must also be noted that to us as BCP, we hold BDP and UDC in the same view.

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They are both our political competitors and we intend to beat both of them in 2024 elections. BCP has been under massive UDC attack lately given the 19 BCP Councillors aggressively recruited into BNF/UDC including Ntsogotho. It makes logic that BCP defends its territory starting from North West going nationally.

We will go out to aggressively create such opportunities in future irrespective of partner in hand, as long as such opportunities are grabbed in a legal manner.

  • Dr Mpho Pheko- BCP Publicity Secretary

BCP does not have any relationship with the BDP or whatsoever. The Voice knows this very well. While we are aware of the change of Chairmanship of the North West District Council, we think it is local issue mainly motivated by service delivery concerns.

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What happened at Northwest District is democracy at work. It is however important to note that the BCP is duty bound and has a right to fight back against all forms of treachery and gangsterism launched by the UDC against the Party. Why? UDC has been on a mission to destroy BCP, simply because the BCP is standing firm on its demand for good democratic governance at UDC.

We are taken aback by the suggestion that we are in a coalition with BDP. When BDP and UDC cooperated to change the leadership of Council in Bobirwa and Selebi Phikwe, there was never a suggestion that they were cooperating then and were likely to cooperate into the future. We shall not be deterred because we do not see the difference between the UDC and the BDP.

In fact, we see the UDC as a threat to national security and genuine regime change. The BCP has the responsibility to expose all forms of treachery by all parties that wish to govern this country – ruling and in opposition. The BCP has a duty to sensitise Batswana about these threats. You will recall that the BCP president was removed from LOO position by MP’s that are affiliated to the UDC.

So there is no coalition between BCP and BDP. Ntsogotho was Chairman as deployee of the BCP. It remained up to the BCP to reclaim the Chairmanship after Ntsogotho resigned from the party. Further note that the BCP is committed to regime change and it will do all in its power to ensure that come 2024, the BDP is removed from government. In our view, the BDP and the UDC cannot be trusted with state power as they have the same traits of democratic deficit and state capture.

  • Moeti Mohwasa-UDC Head of Communication

We are not shocked that the BDP and the BCP are getting closer and closer. As you might be aware, during the voting for the Chairperson and his Deputy in the same District Council last year, we encouraged UDC members not to go into bed with the BDP.

The BDP had apparently approached some of our councillors to vote with it against other UDC councillors. Our opposition to the BDP is neither opportunistic nor situational. It is principled and consistent.

We would not vote with the BDP at any point because we subscribe to different principles. It is nothing personal or borne out of hatred. We abhor the tendency on the part of any of our members and have suspended our members who have voted with the BDP.

Our members have always argued that the BCP has been voting with the BDP in the elections where its members are not contesting. They should be feeling vindicated. The UDC will keep on looking at how it can improve its model of cooperation as resolved at its Baisago Conference in 2019.

Negotiations with other parties are ongoing and therefore cannot say how the negotiated agreement will look like. Ours is a movement that wants to remove BDP from power at all levels of government but not to sustain its rule.

  • Lawrence Ookeditse- Botswana Patriotic Front Publicity Secretary

What we have seen there is not surprising, it is what we keep seeing from the BCP and it is the behavior that is consistent with their intensions to postpone regime change. It appears like they will work with the BDP in order that they frustrate the UDC and other opposition parties.

We don’t know where their intensions emanate from but anyone can see that the BCP is doing everything to ensure that BDP wins. We are going to work hard as parties within the UDC to ensure that we win against all odds.

What they are doing or did in the North West is exactly what they appear to exist to do, which is to frustrate the opposition and keep the BDP in power.

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