While the rest of the opposition party leadership stayed away from the Botswana Democratic Party 50th Anniversary celebrations, Botsalo Ntuane, vice President of the Botswana Movement for Democracy, attended the celebrations.
Ntuane stuck out on his own thereby going against the decision endorsed by his party’s leadership and its negotiating partners in the resuscitated Umbrella project.
The Botswana National Front, the Botswana People’s Party and the BMD leadership last week reached an understanding that they would not attend the celebrations as they have nothing in common with the BDP policies.
“We initially agreed as a party that we would attend the celebrations but the meeting that transpired between the negotiating teams this week voted otherwise,” said media spokesperson, Merapelo Letebele, maintaining, however, the meeting was not binding.
“Ntuane attended the meeting in his personal capacity as a former Publicity Secretary of the ruling party,” she added.
Although the party had initially agreed to send him to represent them, Ntuane’s decision is bound to set tongues wagging, particularly that he has been linked to returning to his former party – speculation he and his party have denied on numerous occasions.
While he could not be reached on his mobile phone before publication, Ntuane is a known liberalist and independent-minded politician as evidenced by his recent approach when responding to the President’s State of the Nation address.
Ntuane, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, promoted some of the ruling BDP policies, insisting that, as opposition, there was need to pay compliments where it is due. This brought him on a collision course, with other opposition parties who insisted he was not preaching opposition politics.
Thus, some commentators said it was not surprising that he attended.
On Friday, BNF publicity secretary, Moeti Mohwasa, declared that they would not attend the celebrations.
“There is no reason as we do not share anything in common,” said Mohwasa, adding that his party and the ruling party were diametrical opposites.
On the other hand, the BCP did not withdraw its pledge to attend the celebrations.
“We have said this many a times. We will be attending,” was all the BCP secretary general would say on Friday.
The BCP appears to have excluded itself from the Umbrella initiative, saying that it was negotiating with the stakeholders and the party’s grass roots.
The party sees nothing wrong in attending as a courtesy.
“We will send five members to represent us at the occasion as per the requirement spelt out in the letter. It would have been discourteous for us to decline the invitation,” Gobotswang said on Friday.