The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has dismissed reports that it is planning to submit a proposal to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) demanding the position of Vice President for itself on the coalition’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The spokesman of the party, Lawrence Ookeditse, told The Botswana Gazette in an interview this week that the party is still refining its policies and setting up its structures and that their biggest concern at the moment is to take part in imminent bye-elections.
“We have not reached that stage yet,” Ookeditse said. “During our meeting yesterday (Sunday), we mostly discussed the bye-elections and issues concerning the executive.”
This coincides with the response of the spokesman of UDC, Moeti Mohwasa, who told this publication this week that he is not aware of such a demand from the BPF and that no such proposal has ever been brought before the National Executive Committee of the coalition. “It is news to us.” Mohwasa said. “We are not aware of anything like that.”
The man in the eye of the storm himself, Saleshando, has said he is not aware of such a development. However, information reaching The Botswana Gazette has persisted that some of BPF’s internal discussions have been about such a proposal and that it would include the party’s position on constituency allocations.
It is said the BPF intends to present a demand of 10 constituencies in the Central District and drop its demand for some constituencies in the North East District. According to a source that cannot be identified, “it is only fair for the BPF to have the vice presidency of the UDC because we also want to feel that we are an integral part of the coalition by participating in decisions in the best interests of our members”.
Although it is not clear for whom the position is intended, sources say the name of Tshekedi Khama keeps cropping up. But the BPF has denied this, saying Tshekedi has never shown any interest in the position. Said one source: “I am personally rooting for Tshekedi Khama because he commands a lot of respect and experience in politics. The president of the party has been suspended and his image cannot boost our chances.”
The source was speaking just after a meeting of BPF leaders yesterday at which the party’s president Biggie Butale was suspended for 30 days over allegations of sexual misconduct that are currently going viral on social media.
Meanwhile, UDC insiders say the BPF’s plan is to influence the ousting of Dumelang Saleshando as Vice President of the UDC. “The initial idea was that the UDC would renew its model of having two vice presidents, thus giving the BPF a chance of assuming one of them,” said one. “But that has since changed.”
Another alleged plan was to encourage individual opposition parties to disband and then go into a total merger where Saleshando would not feature on the executive.”There are suspicions that the BPF and the BNF are working closely to oust Saleshando in order to accommodate a new vice president from the BPF,” the insider said.
“The BPF has been clashing with the BCP over constituencies and it would not be surprising to see the BPF being given more room on the executive because the UDC has confidence in the BPF delivering Central District constituencies at the next general elections.”
The UDC leadership was reportedly against a vice president coming from the BPF before, preferring the position of Secretary General for Botswana’s newest but potentially resourceful political party but was met with resistance from a BPF member gunning for greater gumption inside the coalition.