The leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando led his party young turks over the weekend to say they will not be joining Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Behind the scenes there are senior party members who are of the view that BCP should consider joining the Umbrella to avert extinction.
But Saleshando and his group hold that BCP can only work with UDC outside the Umbrella model.
Addressing a political rally at Old Naledi on Sunday, Saleshando said if time was to be turned back to December 2011 when he refused the coalition he would still reject it again.
“I believe we made the right decision. I do not regret ever taking that decision. ┬áWhen we parted in 2011 we agreed that we will find other ways of working together outside the Umbrella model. That is where I still stand. I am the leader of the people who I consult concerning any issue at hand; I am not leading goats that can be driven into a kraal anytime. The talks in opposition cooperation failed in December 2011 and the whole thing is put as if the BCP committed a crime,” he said.
The BCP president said for the first time in the history of politics in Botswana they have experienced an opposition party targeting another opposition party.
He was referring to the UDC, which is not altogether correct since BCP fiercely targeted the Botswana National Front after its formation.
He also said it was the first time ever that the state president relied on lies to gain votes.
Information has since surfaced that the BCP hotheads recently met and took a decision not to leave any stone unturned.
They are determined among other things to respond back to any insults levelled against their president
Elias Rantleru of Lobatse said UDC traded on lies by associating the BCP with the ruling BDP.
“As we speak Batswana will not enjoy the benefits from their minerals under the current regime and the UDC will be exposed. We do not understand how one can vote Duma Boko and leave BCP out,” said a clearly frustrated Rantleru.
Rantleru indicated that there is no how BCP could be part of the Umbrella because the two are different political parties.
He said at the BCP decisions are made by the members while in the two other parties (BDP and UDC) decisions are made by the leadership.
“There is no how we can have any relationship with the UDC. We are not a party that encourages hatred. We are going to protect our president and now is the time to stand by him. Whoever says a thing to him they must know that automatically they are saying a thing to the youth of Botswana Congress Party. We are not going to be smart boys anymore,” he said.
Rantleru hopes that the BCP can do well on its own.
“We will get there. We do not need any partnership from their side, gaba tsamae ba rile batla kgona, gaba kgone,” he said.
Chilyboy Rakgare who was defeated in Mogoditshane said unlike the UDC their target was not another opposition party but the ruling BDP.
“When we got into the race for the 2014 general elections we never mentioned that our target was Umbrella. They might have been trading lies and insulting our president but our main target remains the BDP. We want BDP out. Our eyes are on the BDP. We still appeal to Batswana that the BCP is the only party that can set them free from unemployment and poverty,” he said.
Rakgare said Umbrella’s foundation is built on lies and the BCP will never be part of such lies.
“If Batswana are going to punish us for refusing to be part of the lies then they can continue to do that. UDC should explain to the nation why they lied that Saleshando was responsible for BCP not joining Umbrella. Until this happens to hell with the umbrella. We will not allow them to drag Saleshando’s name in the mud anymore, we will stand for him. We have taken a decision starting from today that we will protect our president,” he said.
Another BCP firebrand Lotty Manyapetsa said Dumelang Saleshando is not going anywhere.
“Some are saying he should resign – let me just tell them that Saleshando is the BCP president and we are going to the 2019 general elections with him still being the president of the BCP. He is our leader and we have assigned him for that presidency position. He is a good leader. He listened to us when we told him that we do not want to be part of the Umbrella. He is not a president who makes decisions at freedom squares,” he said.
Manyapetsa said whoever has a problem with Dumelang Saleshando within the BCP can just pack their bags and leave. ┬á
“He is not going anywhere. Whoever has a problem with that should pack and leave. If UDC seriously wants us to be part of the Umbrella they should ask Phenyo Butale or Haskins Nkagiwa to pave way for Saleshando that is when we will start negotiations,” he said.
The fire brands said that they still trust Saleshando.