Although the players would not want to say it openly, indications are that the ongoing opposition unity talks are on the rocks.
Information reaching Sunday Standard is that negotiating parties have been busy amassing volume of evidence against one another to prove each other’s cases of negotiating in bad faith.
While Botswana Congress Party has accused others of leaking information to the media, Botswana National Front has written a formal complaint to the coordinator of the talks Mr. Lebang Mpotokwane, complaining that the BCP Executive Committee Member and leader of the National Democratic Front, Dick Bayford, has been using privileged information in his discussion paper that he published in the media for public consumption.
Indications are that, while the talks have not yet collapsed, each party is busy looking for a way out, to use as a scapegoat for opting out.
It would also seem like what is keeping the parties at the table is fear of being the one to take the rap after throwing the spanner into the works or being the one whose behaviour led to the collapse of the talks.
The public is anxiously monitoring the talks, and whatever party does not play ball is likely to be punished.
Among other things the BNF letter stated that Bayford who is listed as a member of the BCP negotiating team used privileged information to attack the BNF when addressing the cooperation models.
The letter calls for disciplinary action against Bayford, as such models are still being discussed.
Bayford’s conduct at a rally he addressed in Gaborone South recently is also said to have deliberately targeted the BNF Secretary General and Member for the area, Akanyang Magama.
Following the formalization of his party’s official links with the BCP, Bayford was quoted saying Batswana should shun or question parties that don’t want to show commitment to the talks and asked the people at the rally to ask Magama, who also happens to be the member of parliament for Gaborone South, about his commitment to the talks.
When reached for comment, NDF president, Dick Bayford, acknowledged that he heard of a complainant of that sort in a report addressed to the coordinator of the talks. “People are crying wolf when there is no wolf”, said Bayford I never used any privileged information. My commentaries were general and targeted already in the public domain.
Some such issues have been disclosed by BNF functionaries such as Kanjabaga and Kgosipula. One can reasonably anticipate the various models of cooperation because they are few.”
When asked about the letter, Dr Kathleen Letshabo, who represented the BNF team at Maun, said that the discussions were behind closed doors and so she could not confirm or deny the existence of such a letter.