The Botswana People’s Party (BPP) has turned down a request for support made by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in contesting a by-election in the Mathangwane North constituency.
The seat fell vacant after councilor Gilbert Mkhukhu of the BDP, passed away during last year’s Christmas holidays.
A letter of request from the BCP Secretary General, Taolo Lucas, was rejected outright by the BCP.
In words meant to entice the 40-year-old party, Lucas stated that over the years, the BCP and the BPP had successfully built a spirit of mutual trust amongst themselves and have jealously protected the integrity of the opposition cooperation project which has since collapsed after the BPP pulled out of the talks earlier this week.
“As you may be aware comrades, Mathangwane North ward has fallen vacant after the passing away of the local councilor in the area. The BCP is, therefore, appealing to you to allow us to contest this election,” reads part of the letter.
Ironically, Lucas further stated that the BCP was aware that the Memorandum of Understanding on by-elections that the opposition parties entered in last year had collapsed but added that the BCP was prompted and encouraged by the relative stability that had dominated cooperation between the two parties to make its humble request.
In its response, the BPP snapped at the request and said that it had already decided to field a candidate.
“Regrettably, the BPP is unable to grant your wish and has resolved to field a candidate in the said ward,” the letter of response from BPP acting Secretary General, Edward Mpoloka, said.
In the 2004 elections, the BDP snatched the now vacant ward by 312 votes, while the BCP came trailing with 132 votes followed by the BPP, which received 102 votes.
If the memorandum of understanding were still in place between the parties, the BPP would have been expected to pave way for the BCP in this by-election. However, cooperation has since turned sour between the two parties, resulting in the BPP pulling out of the talks it was involved in with both the Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana Alliance Movement. The BPP argued that it had become apparent that the PACT model similar to the 2004 one involving the BNF, BPP, and BAM, which the three parties were looking to settle for, could not yield any positive results since each party was interested in taking advantage of the other negotiating partners.
In a press statement confirming the withdrawal of the BPP from the talks, Mpoloka expressed concern that partisan interests took precedence over national interests and this, he said, was causing unnecessary controversy among the negotiating partners. He pointed out that the model was temporary and, as such, parties would continue to recruit from each other even as they negotiate amongst themselves.
He also added that the allocation of constituencies favoured other parties other than his and this had the potential to break the BPP apart as the general party membership was against this idea.
The BPP has since suggested a total merger between all opposition parties, an idea that the BCP finds hard to swallow.