Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Mr Dumelang Saleshando, says failure to reach a consensus on opposition parties cooperation prior to the 2014 general elections should not be misconstrued to mean BCP will not engage other parties on the same.
He told the party’s congress in Kanye on Sunday (July 19) that BCP had a standing resolution that committed the party to exploring cooperation with like-minded political parties.
“When talks with parties that constitute Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) collapsed, we still stated our commitment to cooperation and proposed that there be consideration of cooperation in areas where either we or the UDC were not contesting,” he said.
The BCP leader said, considering the general perception of many Batswana to have a united opposition, the time had arrived for his party to engage the UDC and seriously consider ways in which the two could cooperate in 2019.
Therefore, Mr Saleshando said the congress presented the party with a platform to once again adopt a resolution to renew the leadership’s mandate to negotiate with others in the opposition.
He said such negotiations should protect the interest of the party and go beyond putting together a plan to oust the ruling Botswana Democratic Party but should put in place a comprehensive political programme that would usher in a better life for Batswana.
On discipline within the party, Mr Saleshando warned that recent and sporadic unruliness, which he said was foreign to Botswana Congress Party, would not go on unpunished.
Incidents of indiscipline, in particular a barrage of exchanges over social media punctuated with abusive and outright vulgar would attract harsh penalties.
“We will act decisively to reverse this emerging trend. I am therefore issuing a warning to all members that action will be taken against those who choose to undermine the party through their conduct, no single member has a right to shame or belittle the party through acts of indiscipline,” he cautioned.
The BCP leader also commended the media, especially private media for having become a platform for free debate during the 2014 general elections.
He said BCP would continue to cordially work with the media and call for legislation that could make the latter thrive.
For her part, leader women’s league, Ms Daisy Bathusi, called on women to stand united and fight for their rights.
She said women, in spite of their numerical advantages and the fact that they tended to bear the brunt of many social ills, continued to shy away from assuming leadership positions.
“These challenges call on us to face them head on especially that the government of the day does not show the political will to address the plight of our women,” she said adding that such developments that promote gender balance such as the 30 per cent women quota will have to start within Botswana Congress Party structures.
Ms Bathusi, however, commended the BCP party leadership for their advocacy role on women representation throughout all the structures of the party; something she said was unheard of in other political parties.