The Botswana Congress Party has put other opposition parties on notice that cooperation negotiations have to be completed by 2011 so as to make time for campaigns ahead of General Elections scheduled for 2014.
Addressing his first media conference since becoming BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando said his party wanted negotiations to be treated as urgent and to be through by 2011.
“We want the cooperation negotiations to be treated as urgent because they will affect our 2014 campaign,” he said.
Party National Chairman, Batisani Maswibilili has been tasked to be the BCP lead negotiator.
Saleshando said the recent party congress in Maun has given the leadership a wide open mandate on how to negotiate with other opposition parties.
“The objective is that our team must get the best deal for the country,” he said.
Commenting on how the BCP is likely to relate with the newly formed Botswana Movement for Democracy, Saleshando said his party is not looking for an “anti-Khama coalition.”
He said while monitoring the BMD direction, the BCP would particularly be on the lookout for working relationships and opportunities that will produce a Botswana with an economy that produces jobs, focusing more on education and less on security expenditure.
“If we cooperate with BMD it will be a relationship based on shared values and not on convenience,” he said.
Saleshando said given the rate at which the ruling Botswana Democratic Party was losing many of its people to the newly formed BMD, his party was now on high alert as anything was possible.
“BDP’s stability and ability to govern has been badly undermined. It is possible that as opposition we could be negotiating and forming a coalition government before 2014.”
He said as the BCP, they felt vindicated by events at BDP, not least because those leaving the BDP were citing a lack of inner party democracy.
“Our feeling is that the formation of BMD is a vote of no confidence on Ian Khama.”
Saleshando said this was particularly so because the very Members of Parliament who were now leaving the ruling party were the same ones that had voted for Khama to become President.
“We should not forget that Khama was elected by BDP Members of Parliament and not by the voters,” said Saleshando.
On other matters the BCP Leader said his party will now shift focus towards the economy.
“The Party will lead a public debate on the need to reconsider our economic model and refine its policies to address the challenges we face. Issues of job creation, equitable distribution of wealth as well as citizen economic empowerment will be the main concern for the BCP.”
Party Vice President Lepetu Setshwaelo has been mandated to head the policy development unit.
Saleshando said going forward the BCP intends to present five Bills to parliament: Bill on Freedom of Information, Bill on Insider Trading, Bill on Citizen Economic Empowerment and the Bill on Public Funding of Political Parties.
Although the Minister of Presidential Affairs has said she intends to present a Bill on Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities, the BCP Leader says his party would like to highlight key aspects that such a law should entail “given the BDP’s known reluctance to have such a law.”
He said BCP will resist attempts by BDP to come up with a “watered down law.”
“Our ministers are deeply involved in business. They are forming companies well ahead of everyone else, especially because they have inside information with regard to next year’s budget. The Bill on Insider Trading is supposed to take care of that,” he said.