The Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which is currently seeking mandate from its rank and file whether or not to continue with the opposition cooperation talks, has blamed the current negotiating parties for addressing them in the media.
The BCP says while it respects the decision of the parties to continue with the revived Umbrella to its exclusion it has reservations with the conduct of the current negotiating parties towards it by not responding to its correspondence with them.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) have resumed collapsed Umbrella talks to the exclusion of the BCP after the latter said it wanted to seek mandate from its followers for the way forward.
“We feel that common courtesy would have prevailed and the parties should have responded to our communication with them. What is even amazing is that the participants of the revived Umbrella continue to make statements about us and our possible participation in Umbrella activities without due decency of formal communication with ourselves,” says the BCP spokesman, Taolo Lucas.
“The case in point is their latest press conference where announcements were made about our participation in possible reconciliation workshop without first seeking our consent. We find this inappropriate and a violation of basic rules of engagement. Why should parties that choose to ignore our communication believe that it is proper for them to plan activities that they believe should involve the BCP and proceed to announce them to the press before engaging us?,” Lucas wonders.
Following the collapse of Umbrella talks, the BCP leadership continues to roll out its consultation process. The party says the process shall be concluded on the 11th March 2011, after which the Executive is scheduled to meet on the 15th of March to consider the report and prepare its recommendations to the central committee.
The party Central Committee shall meet to consider the outcome of the consultation process and the recommendations of the Executive Committee on the 24th March 2011 in Palapye. On the same day, the Party’s Leadership Forum will meet to deliberate on the outcome of the consultation process.
“The consultation process is intended to brief and receive feedback from members of the party on the opposition cooperation project. The BCP considers it imperative that it consults its membership on the status of the opposition project for two reasons. First the party was given the mandate by its Congress at Maun in July 2010 to negotiate possible cooperation with like-minded political parties until the 31st December, 2011. This in effect allowed the party a negotiation period of 18 months which was considered more than adequate to complete the task. In its wisdom, the BCP Congress felt that opposition cooperation beyond 2011 will have a disruptive effect on the preparation for the 2014 General Elections,” Lucas says.
The spokesman says the BCP leadership deems it is proper and appropriate that any consideration to vary Congress resolution must be informed by the feedback from the members of the party.
“The leadership has been tasked to undertake the negotiation process with clear timelines, which we are not empowered to alter unilaterally. Secondly, the opposition cooperation project had stalled over a specific issue of constituency allocation which could not be resolved by the negotiation teams and the leadership of the four parties. The most logical action as per the BCP leadership is to consult with members to seek guidance and direction on the matter. We felt that it is counterproductive to engage in protracted debates and arguments without making headway for months hence we moved a step further to consult the party membership,” says Lucas.
The party says the consultation process that it is currently undertaking is not only necessary but constitutionally imperative.
“The BCP membership is an integral part of the decision making process in the party. Excluding the membership from critical decisions is an affront to participatory democracy which we hold sacrosanct in the BCP,” says Lucas.