Veteran politician and lawyer Dick Bayford has broken ranks with his party, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), by calling for all to rally behind the Umbrella.
Falling short of decampaiging his own party, Bayford says that the Umbrella project is the key to eventual attainment of state power.
“The Umbrella project needs to be supported…Although the BCP is not part and parcel of the Umbrella, it needs to support it because it is yet another to unite the opposition,” he said.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, the BCP politician declared that his dream is to bring the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) and his party the BCP together.
“I envisage a situation where the Umbrella will be able to forge a formidable working relationship with the BCP,” he said.
According to Bayford, if the BCP works with a BNF-led Umbrella there is bound to be little or no room for disagreements.
He said the BCP is a product of cooperation.
He said that having merged with the New Democratic Front (NDF) and Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), the BCP is a product of opposition cooperation. As a result, the BNF and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) should be encouraged to come up with something along the lines of a merger or pact.
“BNF and BMD should be encouraged to come up with a similar working arrangement…for that reason we have to ensure that the Umbrella comes into fruition,” he said.
The BCP has made it clear it cannot participate in the Umbrella politics owing to time constraints and its reservations on some of the negotiating partners.
Despite strong friendship ties with BNF leader Duma Boko, Bayford maintains that he is a BCP activist. He nonetheless argues that he does not think he stands to be compromised.
“The BCP has never said it is opposed to the Umbrella project…am yet to hear the BCP say they are opposed to cooperation…I don’t even envisage any conflict of interest,” says Bayford.
He says that the party leadership has not even expressed any qualms after he was tasked by the negotiating parties to draft the Umbrella constitution.
“Am opposed to hostilities among opposition parties and I believe the opposition should come up with a working arrangement,” he said.
Reports abound that this BCP leader wants to join the BNF. In fact, many party insiders argue that it’s only a question of time. Bayford has been accused of withdrawing from party activities and declining to take up party assignments.
He, however, insists he is a BCP member.
“I have not been given any assignment that I declined to take up. Were I to be given any assignment I would discharge that assignment with distinction,” he stated.