Botswana Congress Party (BCP) veteran politician, Lepetu Ephraim Setshwaelo has over the weekend dumped BCP and joined the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Setshwaelo has confirmed to The Telegraph that he is disillusioned with the BCP and that he is no longer a member of Botswana Congress Party.
“I tried to email them my resignation earlier on but it has since bounced back. I will tomorrow morning look for their correct email address and email my resignation,” he told this publication.
His resignation is with immediate effect.
He says he has got one major gripe with the BCP: In his view Botswana Congress Party is not committed to opposition cooperation.
This has become clear over the years, he says.
Setshwaelo has been a key advisor to BCP Leader Dumelang Saleshando.
Setshwaelo said the BCP all these years has never showed any commitment towards joining the UDC.
He said he would have thought the party had learnt a lesson in the previous 2014 General Elections where they performed badly outside opposition unity.
“But [still] they remain the same old BCP,” he said in an interview.
“They are far from seeing that the nation of Botswana needs opposition parties to unite. Since 2014 it has taken them so long to wrap up their minds to say whether they are joining or not. I know there are attempts to do that but we also know that there are divisions within the leadership of the party on whether joining is a right thing or not,” said Setshwaelo.
He said following a dismal showing at the 2014 General elections, he is of the view that the BCP should be the party driving opposition unity.
“This is not for personal gains but it’s for the good benefit of Batswana. They should look into huge mistakes of 2014 that cost them seats in Parliament. This included their leader losing the elections. They should be going to UDC to say now we have wrapped up our minds and we are joining,” Setshwaelo told this publication.
Setshwaelo does not get an impression that the BCP is in a hurry to be part of opposition cooperation. He is not sure if at all they will join, he said.
“They walked out of opposition cooperation talks many times before but really the lessons of 2014 were clear lessons to everybody,” he said.
He is looking to join the UDC.
He said he took this decision after it became clear to him that he has nothing much left to help change the mindset of the BCP leadership.
“What can I do really? I am not just walking out. I tried my best. We advised way back about the importance of being a united opposition. It is not about position it is about national unity, the welfare of Botswana and its future; BCP don’t get this,” said Setshwaelo.
Former BCP veteran said he had expected BCP leadership to drive their members towards a united opposition but as it is it is the party that is dragging its feet.
“That has been my voice within the BCP throughout, to the party and individuals and it has taken too long. It’s over a year now after 2014 general elections still there is nothing pushing the BCP towards opposition cooperation,” said Setshwaelo.
He does not understand why some leaders within the BCP are still crying for spilled milk when the UDC is there as an option.
“BCP is not ready for opposition cooperation,” a former BCP insider concluded.
Before joining the BCP, Setshwaelo was the leader of The Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) that was considered a progressive party in Botswana.
Prior to the 2009 elections BAM entered into an electoral pact with the Botswana Congress Party. In the 2009 elections the party won a seat in the National Assembly of Botswana for the first time. He contested the 2009 general elections in Ramotswa under the BCP ticket; he was also in the team tasked for opposition cooperation talks that collapsed in the build up to 2014 General Elections.
Botswana Congress Party said they were unaware of Setshwaelo’s resignation at the time of going to press.