The UDC top leadership called a meeting with the UDC chairperson, Molapise after a period of uncertainty about the veteran of opposition’s commitment to the opposition unity project.
UDC vice president and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Dumelang Saleshando confirmed Molapise’s words of commitment to the UDC but indicated that Molapise would not attend yesterday’s open political meeting at the Chedu Choga community hall.
According to the agenda of the meeting held at the Marang Hotel on Thursday, Molapise was supposed to reassure the UDC leadership of his commitment to the unity project and later explain himself to the UDC meeting at a packed hall. Molapise would not agree to the latter.
The meeting also provided the best opportunity for Molapise to present his long stalled case to the UDC head honchos. After the BPP was given four constituencies early this year, Molapise felt his party was hard done-by after it had instead been promised seven. He wrote letters to the UDC leadership demanding more, but his demands were yet to be heeded months later.
Prior to this meeting, Molapise spoke in forked tongues, which raised fears that he could jump ship and follow his political friends as he had a strong bond with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) interim president, Gaolathe Ndaba.
“The problem with Molapise is that he has been telling the UDC one thing about his commitment and informing the media something else in interviews,” declared a worried UDC leader who preferred anonymity.
Advocate Boko, UDC and the Botswana National Front (BNF) president, led the discussions with Saleshando as it was not going to sit well with Molapise who has been querying the BCP membership of the UDC, which he said was not legitimate.
It is also unfortunate that the BPP is divided over the value of continuing with the UDC membership especially after the issue of constituencies dragged for too long without a resolution.
Reports indicate that Molapise and the BPP vice president, Mbaakanyi Lenyatso have apparently lost patience with the snail pace at which their grievances took forever to be resolved. But Molapise maintained their commitment to the UDC and ‘friendship’ to the AP and its leadership.
“When we started opposition negotiations talks in 2011, BPP was closer to the BMD and the BNF on the other hand was closer to the BCP,” said Molapise.
The veteran politician further explained that even after the Ndaba-led faction of the BMD finally morphed into a full-fledged party known as the Alliance for Progressives (AP), they are still their friends.
“We are talking to them (AP) and we shall see how far our talks with them will go as a political organisation,” he said referring to the AP.
Molapise further acknowledged that the AP had invited him to their launch and he would give a solidarity message.
Molapise was forthright that he has reassured the UDC of his commitment to the project. As for the need to address a packed hall of the UDC members Molapise said: “ I told them that I am not ready to address the Chedu Choga meeting as I was not forewarned about the development since I had other commitments,” he told this publication. Most importantly, Molapise was elated that at long last the issue of constituencies was discussed and it was agreed that it should be revisited.
BPP is vulnerable to splits, especially when its leaders do not agree on pertinent issues.
Towards Botswana’s inaugural general election of 1965, a schism amongst the big three leaders of the BPP ensued. It gave birth to three small and insignificant political formations, Philip Matante’s BPP 1, Motsamai Mpho’s BPP 2 and Kgalemang Motsete’s BPP 3.
Immediately after the 1999 general elections, in which the BPP participated under the banner of the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), there were disagreements amongst the party leaders after the Makaleng conference with some party sections ruling that the BAM move was not viable whilst others insisted the BPP should remain in BAM.
Following the Makaleng conference, the whole of the BPP team had defected to the newly formed BAM against the wish of the party conference.
Kenneth Nkhwa, Smarts Shabani, the late Matlhomola Modise, Moseki Matlhodi and others defected to BAM.
It is feared that in the current impasse over whether the BPP should continue with the UDC membership or opt for the newly formed AP, there is a likelihood of the party leadership splitting between the two political formations (UDC and AP).