Friday, May 24, 2024

Opposition negotiations on the verge of collapse

By the time you read this article, the Opposition Umbrella project may have collapsed.
The uncomfortable truth about the opposition Umbrella project is that four political parties are failing to reach common ground in their endeavour to unseat the ruling party as a collective.

The four political parties, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) were scheduled to meet yesterday (Saturday).

The meeting came as bilateral talks between the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) had collapsed several times.

Added to this, mediation between the two parties should have taken place following the stalemate but this has not happened.

In the same breath, bilateral talks between the Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana Movement for Democracy have also deadlocked.

The BCP has since referred their deadlock with the BMD to the conveners, a source told this publication ahead of the Saturday meeting. At the meeting, parties were expected to report on progress thus far.

“In the absence of mediation, the next level would be shuttle diplomacy. We do not know what is going to happen at the meeting. The BCP could not meet with the BMD on 22 October because the BMD did not have enough numbers to represent the party. But the BCP and BMD bilateral talks have not been exhausted,” said a source.

Conveners of the opposition negotiations, Lebang Mpotokwane and Modise Maphanyane, could not be reached for comment. They have previously issued a joint media statement that they, not opposition parties, would issue media dispatches regarding the negotiations.

As the parties met yesterday for their scheduled meeting, no mediation between the four parties had taken place, raising speculation as to whether or not mediation would have helped the situation.
The definition of incumbency, it would appear, has become the sticking point in the distribution of constituencies. In particular this has only gotten problematic for the BMD than any other negotiating political party.

The BMD on the one hand faults its negotiation partners for trying to render it irrelevant by demanding constituencies where it enjoys incumbency despite the absence of any imperial evidence that it commands a following. The BCP and the BNF, on the other hand, argue that the BMD wants to claim winnable constituencies which the parties lost marginally to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in the past general election.


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