There is a lot of panic inside the BNF.
Arrogance and insensitivity of yesteryear has been replaced by modesty and humility.
“Come and let’s talk. We are brothers, we need each other!”
That has been the BNF mantra since October 16 when it became clear that any other road led to extinction.
Defeat, they say, can be a very good teacher.
There is no question about it.
Arrogance of yesteryear is no more.
This is not to underestimate difficulties that lie ahead.
The trouble though is that we have been through all this before.
In fact, BNF and BCP marriage has in the past ended up in violent break ups.
Hearts have been broken and promises shattered.
While we are asked to give the two the benefit of the doubt, we should not invest too many emotions in this second encounter again.
And, what’s more, history teaches us that the road ahead is going to be bumpy.
But at least Botswana politics is once again an interesting and fascinating game.
In Botswana when BNF and the BCP talk to each other everyone listens.
And the two are talking again – for the first time in almost three years.
It’s a pity though that the BNF had to be beaten close to death for them to appreciate the old adage that there is safety in numbers.
A once proud party, BNF is re-entering the marriage vows from a position of weakness.
In fact, they are still to regain consciousness after last month’s terrible defeat.
We wish them well, if not for anything else then at least because the ruling BDP is tired, has run out of ideas and has become irredeemably arrogant.
We want to underscore the fact that the negotiations between BCP and BNF are going to need a lot of skill.
Greater skill than was necessary when the encounter collapsed during the first round.
Mistrust and brinkmanship still run through the two’s bloodstreams.
Thus two weeks ago the BCP Secretary General shouted that his party would push to have their leader, Gil Saleshando, made Leader of Opposition.
The once small, junior, partner has not only grown, it has also become bolder.
Such language is unhelpful and counterproductive, of course, especially when dealing with wounded creatures like the BNF.
Taolo Lucas could have been bluffing if not punching above his weight.
But still he was giving us a peek of what to expect in this second bite at the cherry.
While we wish them well, we want to remind the BCP that pleasing the BNF is one of the hardest things in Botswana politics.
It is important from the start for the BCP to know who they are trying to collaborate with.
The BNF is a wounded party.
For this second round marriage to work, the BCP has to do everything to make the BNF feel important again. The best way to do that is to caress the BNF’s ego, even if it means turning the belly up for tickling by the partner.
The charm offensive has to keep rolling.
To an extent that neither of them has yet fully grasped, the BNF and BCP need each other.
Really painful concessions and sacrifices are going to have to be made ahead.
In principle both readily admit that cooperation is the best policy.
But then, as the English would put it, the evil is in the detail.
At the moment the real owners of the BNF, the haters of opposition unity are out in the cold, having been banished into the wilderness by Moupo and his lieutenants.