Khama’s Presence Stalls Opposition Talks

BPF claims that the majority have embraced him


The presence of former president Ian Khama in the opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is the rub that is stalling unity negotiations between his party and the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC), The Botswana Gazette has heard.

Impeccable sources within the UDC say while the BPF has expressed interest in working with them formally for the next general elections in 2024, an impediment that keeps being raised is the presence of the former president, who is the Patron of the BPF.

The BPF, which is a splinter formation from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP),recently expressed its desire to enter into unity talks with the UDC. Its spokesman, Justice Motlhabani, has confirmed this in an interview but referred further questions to other party leaders.

Those who shun the presence of Khama in the BPF say being with him is hypocrisy of the highest degree because of what they call 10 years of his misrule as a president of Botswana. On the other hand, those who want him in a more united opposition say he would be an advantage because of his popularity and influence.

“It is indisputable that the former president is influential and has a large following but some opposition members are against the idea of uniting with his BPF on the grounds that his presence is likely to backfire,”said one source.

“Considering his 10year misrule, his critics fear that the electorate will shun the united opposition in protest. However, on the other hand, those who want him are convinced that his popularity and large following can help a united opposition wrestle power from the BDP in the next general elections.”

There were similar misgivings about Khama presence in the opposition ahead of the 2019 general elections. Reached for comment, BPF president Biggie Butale said that it is be unfortunate that there are people who do not want to accept Khama within the opposition.

“As much as there are people who are uncomfortable working with Khama, there are some who seriously need him,” Butale said. “The great majority are embracing him while the minority might have misgivings about working with him. But we are delighted because most have embraced his presence.”

UDC spokesman, Moeti Mohwasa, would not be drawn into discussing the issue of working with Khama, saying he had already addressed it.