The Botswana Congress Party has dismissed as “laughable and a non-starter” a suggestion that the two parties and BAM (Botswana Alliance Movement) should merge under the banner of BPP.
In a confidential letter leaked to The Sunday Standard, a Senior BPP officer implored the BCP to dissolve and join his party’s ranks.
BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando dismissed the idea out of hand.
“This is exactly why we could not agree with BNF. Why do they think we would refuse the BNF and agree to it when it is them coming with the proposal?” asked Saleshando.
The BPP suggested that after dissolving itself, the BCP should join the Francistown-based party.
The BPP letter addressed to the BCP President, Gil Saleshando, stated that they (BPP) had been disappointed by the collapse of the opposition negotiation talks that were convened by former permanent secretary, Lebang Mpotokwane.
“The BPP has been disappointed by the collapse of the opposition cooperation talks. However, we saw it coming. We were, therefore, not surprised by the unfortunate withdrawal of the BNF from the talks,” says the letter.
Formed in 1960, the BPP pointed out that the credibility of opposition parties was at stake.
“We at BPP wish to re-affirm our commitment to the opposition Cooperation Project,” the BPP letter to Saleshando said.
“Our major concern at this juncture is that if the three remaining parties proceed with the talks around the Pact Model (as is currently the case) we are likely to come across major problems later, especially at the stage of sharing wards and constituencies.”
The BPP went on to warn the BCP that opposition parties could not afford another split, especially just before the elections, like what happened before.
As a result BPP proposes that BAM, BCP and BPP should merge into one of the existing political parties.
“The party to be merged into should be the BPP.”
BPP conceded that because BCP, which is a BNF splinter, had a strong credible leadership, it should be allowed to take over the leadership of the merged entities.
The party elaborated in detail the reasons for coming up with the suggestions that were first mooted by the Botswana National Front and rejected by BCP before leading to the collapse of the unity project.
The letter further pointed out, “The election results for the Pact arrangement may not differ from that achieved by the three opposition parties at the 2004 polls.
The alternative of registering a completely new party by the three opposition parties has the immediate effect of going through the inconvenient and cumbersome process.”
The BPP added that there was a possible worsening of the splitting of the opposition vote if some of the people insisted on remaining in their old parties. The letter warned of possible dangers in increasing the number of opposition parties in the country.
On why the other parties should rally around the BPP flag, the party said it was the oldest in the country with a well-known name, and still carried a lot of goodwill all over the country, “particularly amongst the older generation.”
The party said the adoption of their proposal by other parties would have to be preceded by extensive consultations culminating in a special congress by each of the participating parties at which each would seek the authorization to proceed with a “mandate of this magnitude.”
“Once blessed by the congresses, the Joint Task Forces would nominate the new party leadership which would prepare for a special congress of all the three parties together where the new leadership would either be endorsed or a new one elected.”