The Botswana Congress Party has rejected an invitation from the Committee for the Strengthening of Democracy to join fresh round of talks aimed at opposition unity for the 2014 General Elections.
The Committee, led by former Permanent Secretary Lebang Mpotokwane, had tasked one of its key members, Mothabane Maphanyane, to kick start the new round of unity talks.
The BCP said that, while they have nothing against opposition unity in principle, their immediate priority now is not the 2014 elections, but those scheduled for 2009.
They say they want to channel all their resources and energy towards the 2009 elections.
They fear that engaging in any talks now would get their eyes off the ball.
This week, the BCP National Chairman, Batisani Maswibilili, said any talk of preparing for the further down the line 2014 elections would not only derail his party’s preparations for the next elections built would also spread them thin – resource wise.
The invitation to the BCP comes in the wake of reports that the main opposition, the Botswana National Front, is secretly consorting with the Francistown based outfit, the Botswana Peoples Party, ahead of the coming elections.
The BPP and BNF pulled out of the talks early in the year after they could not agree with others, mainly the BCP, on the model to be followed.
The BPP suggested the dissolution of all parties so as to merge under one name, while the BNF said it did not favour the PACT model preferred by the BCP.
When no common ground could be found, the BNF left, making it clear they would only be available for any talks after the 2009 elections to discuss the next round of elections due in 2014.
It was then that the BCP went ahead to court cooperation with smaller parties like the National Democratic Front and Botswana Alliance Movement, a decision which, by the look of things, seem to have paid BCP some dividends in the form of a groundswell of public goodwill and credibility.
Maswibilili said in any case his BCP felt very strongly that the 2009 Elections have to come and pass first before any fresh negotiations are held so that the results from therein could be used in determining the yardstick and criteria for sharing and dividing constituencies among parties.
Dividing and sharing of constituencies has often proved the most difficult and emotive item in the negotiations, with some parties strongly of the view that their size was not reflected in the amount of constituencies offered.
Indications are that the bad blood between the BNF and BCP, a result of internal bloodletting that led to the split of the former a decade ago, would take much longer to heal than was initially anticipated with some commentators predicting that the nation may have to wait for the phasing out of the current crop of leaders of both parties before any substantive reconciliation could occur.