The Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which this week absorbed the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), has now started making overtures at the Botswana Democratic Party splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
In what was widely perceived as a come-hither gesture, BCP invited the BMD at the signing ceremony marking the official merger between BCP and BAM.
Outgoing president of the now dissolved BAM, Lepetu Setshwaelo, told the gathering at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng that he had sought permission from his BCP counter parts to invite BMD and the Botswana National Front (BNF) to the signing ceremony.
The BMD entourage that graced the occasion was made up of MPs Botsalo Ntuane, Gilbert Mangole, spokesperson Sidney Pilane and Freddie Ramodise.
Setshwaelo said his party’s merger with the BCP was not a short term exercise meant to unseat the ruling BDP from power but rather an initiative meant to strengthen Botswana’s democracy. He said there was no need to worry about the BDP as it is a party destined to die a natural death.
“This is meant for future generations, we want to see democracy grow,” said Setshwaelo, after he and BCP leader Gilson Saleshando signed an agreement which sealed the merger of the two political parties into one party to be known as the BCP.
The event also marked the dissolution of BCP and BAM.
He said that the new party is founded on common political ideals, such as upholding of the constitution and traditional Tswana values.
“Unless we stand up, it’s very easy for us to produce an Idi Amin…or Mobutu Sese Seko,” said Setshwaelo.
He urged opposition leaders to stand up and start working together.
“We need to come together and form a strong watch dog of democracy to ensure that when they violate the constitution we should be ready to challenge them,” said Setshwaelo.
He stated that most importantly Botswana needs a strong opposition to take over when the BDP collapses. He said this with his eyes fixed on visiting members of the newly formed BMD.
He said that he was disturbed by the common thinking among many that the reason opposition parties fail to unite is due to the scramble for leadership positions. In what amounted to an invitation to BMD to engage the BCP in cooperation talks, Setshawelo said that it was important to rise above all issues and find a common ground for cooperation.
“It’s important for us to start talking instead fighting for any positions,” he said.
He said that if opposition parties cooperated with each other, President Ian Khama could be stopped from plugging the country into any further chaos.
On the other hand, Gilson Saleshando said that from the past political events, it was clear that state power is up for grabs. Saleshando said that it was important for political players to stay focused if they wanted to achieve anything.
BCP deputy leader, Kesitegile Gobotswang, told the gathering that the new party was guided by principles of social democracy and would use the old BCP constitution until after the July congress. He said that after the congress the party will review its constitution. Gobotswang further announced that the new party had adopted a new symbol and the colours white, black and lime as its colours.