The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has vowed not to support the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) outside the umbrella model, even in constituencies where the two parties will not be contesting against each other.
At a press briefing this week, UDC Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa said the umbrella parties have always maintained their position that they will not engage with BCP in any structure outside the umbrella, even if it means splitting opposition votes. This is despite an announcement by the BCP that it will support the umbrella opposition in constituencies where it has not fielded any candidates, particularly Molepolole North and South.
Together with UDC Secretary General Tapiso Kgosikoma, Mohwasa read BCP the riot act and dismissed any chances of the umbrella rallying behind the BCP candidate in Mmadinare, which is the only constituency where the UDC has not fielded a candidate.
“We have fielded candidates in all 57 constituencies except Mmadinare.
But we will not be supporting BCP even then. Our position has always been clear and consistent even when talks with the BCP collapsed. We believe that the umbrella model is viable and it is the only forum through which opposition parties should engage,” he said.
Mohwasa explained that BCP came up with the idea of the umbrella model and later turned around and abandoned it. He added that even at the time when the BCP abandoned the umbrella, they made it very clear to them that if in future they wish to work with the combined opposition parties, the only platform of engagement would be under the umbrella.
“There is only one model we agreed upon and that is the umbrella model and therefore we will not work with any party outside that model,” he said.
Mohwasa added that it is not too late for the BCP to reconsider, failing which the UDC will have no option but to risk splitting opposition votes and giving the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a chance to once again win elections.
In response, BCP presidential spokesperson, Martin Dingake said the BCP’s position that it will support the UDC in Molepolole remains unchanged, despite the UDC’s position not to support the BCP in Mmadinare.
“Our position to support the UDC in constituencies where the BCP had not fielded any candidate remains unchanged. It is not so much about the UDC but it is about the development of democracy. As the BCP we believe that the ruling BDP is not fit to lead this country and we will render our support to any alternative either at ward or constituency level,” said Dingake.
However, some members of the BCP are secretly against the party position as they believe there is no valid reason for the BCP to support the UDC when the umbrella has made it clear that the BCP is not party to them.
“Why should we support the combined opposition parties if they cannot give the same support to BCP? We are an independent opposition party because we decided not to be part of the umbrella. We should not be making unnecessary overtures to the UDC when they clearly don’t want to work with us. We can go it alone and that’s what we should be concentrating on,” they said.
They added that the BCP’s statement about supporting UDC might even confuse electorates and challenged the BCP leadership to adopt a radical stance against the umbrella because they have shown that they are the enemy.
“We cannot be sweet talking the UDC in public statements yet we attack them in political rallies. What statement are we as BCP members supposed to believe, the official stance or the rally stance? The leadership must come out clear and tell us where we stand. Our position as members is that we must not support the UDC in any way because they are our enemies,” he said.