The Botswana National Front (BNF) president, Duma Boko, has officially requested the Opposition Cooperation Conveners, Lebang Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane, to resume the talks.
Key on the revival of the talks are discussions on allocation of constituencies, Presidency, government structure, policies and possible outcome of the delimitation process. It appears the talks will fail or succeed on these issues.
Boko has written to the two convenors asking them to arrange a meeting between himself and opposition party leaders, Gomolemo Motswaledi of the Botswana Movement For Democracy (BMD), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana People’s Party (BPP)’s Motlatsi Molapisi to map the way forward.
The meeting will also include secretaries general of these parties.
The letter to the convenors is also copied to the leaders of the BCP, BMD and BPP.
The BNF leader informs the two convenors about his party resolutions taken at a central committee meeting last month.
He says that his party has not only chosen for the two men to revive the talks but to also be free to bring on board anyone who they think can be of assistance.
Just recently, two clerics, Dr Prince Dibeela and Dr Cosmos Moeng, offered to revive the Umbrella talks. The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has also held a number of meetings with opposition party leaders in an effort to launch fresh Umbrella talks.
Boko says that the BNF has resolved to return to the talks and pursue the Umbrella because it feels the issues that led to the collapse of the Umbrella are capable of being solved.
The talks were declared dead after the parties deadlocked on the allocation of constituencies. While the BCP argued it had performed better in areas like Ramotswa and Francistown South for instance, the BMD argued it was entitled to be allocated such constituencies because it enjoyed incumbency.
In what appears to be an effort to bring stability within the opposition rank, Boko says that his party is of the view that ‘there is need to address the differences and resultant unpleasant exchanges between…BCP and BMD, with targeted interventions geared towards reconciliation and which will involve all the negotiating parties’.
Boko says that the BNF has resolved that the process be concluded and the Umbrella be ready for launch by end of March.
So far, the BCP is still consulting its members countrywide on whether the party should return to the talks. The BMD will, over the weekend, meet to consult further on cooperation with other parties.