The Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which recently resumed cooperation talks, have agreed to work together at parliamentary and local government level. Specifically, the BCP has thrown its weight behind the BNF’s Olebile Gaborone as the leader of the opposition.
This follows a meeting held last week between the two organisations. At this meeting the BNF had sent Gaborone and MP Abraham Kesupile, while the BCP was represented by Kesitegile Gobotswang and BCP’s deputy Secretary General, Motsei Rapelana.
“The Leader of the Opposition will be Mr. Olebile Gaborone, the Member of Parliament for South East North and Vice President of the BNF as recommended by the BNF Central Committee, the majority opposition party currently in Parliament,” this is according to a joint statement signed by Gobotswang and Gaborone.
On the other hand, the BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando has been nominated to serve as the opposition’s whip in Parliament. The two parties have also agreed to establish an opposition parliamentary caucus.
“Elected representatives from the two parties will constitute an Opposition Caucus, while allowing them to also meet as separate entities,” the statement reads in part.
The parties have agreed that they will allocate each other responsibilities on the basis of ‘capability, experience, and inclusiveness so that minorities are not left out’.
“The same principles of cooperation will apply at local level. It is in this spirit that Mr. Steven Makhuru, the BCP Councilor for Malolwane was elected Chairman of Kgatleng District Council even though the BNF Councilors are in the majority,” the parties state.
However, it remains to be seen whether cooperation between the two will bear fruit as expelled members of the BNF faction, trading as the ‘Temporary Platform’, contend that the current party leadership has no mandate to negotiate on opposition cooperation.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the faction’s spokesperson, Dr Elmon Tafa, said that his group, which still regards itself as BNF members, condemned the appointment of Gaborone as leader of the opposition arguing that Gaborone is a BDP member.
“It’s a disaster for the BNF, the man is BDP in thinking,” said Tafa. He stated that the BNF leadership ought to have lifted Nehemiah Modubule’s expulsion from the party and crown him leader of the opposition.
He said that although their group did not have a position on opposition cooperation they are not opposed to cooperation with the BCP.
He, however, hastened to point out that personally after being bruised in the general elections, the BNF needed time to consolidate and reflect on its performance before it could engage in talks with other opposition parties.
“As an individual, I feel that the substantive issues they will seek to address need a legitimate central committee,” adding that the credibility of the current BNF leadership is dented and it thus not fit to negotiate on behalf of the party.