The first phase of constituency allocation between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and its negotiating parties, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) has seen Botswana National Front (BNF) emerging as the biggest winner with 15 constituencies.
The Patriot on Sunday has gathered information that BNF negotiators were unopposed in several constituencies they had lobbied for. They anticipate to gain more in second phase of allocations. Sources close to developments intimate that UDC and negotiating parties expect to bring the whole negotiation process to finality by January 2024, including officially welcoming of AP and BPF into the coalition.
During a BNF media briefing on Tuesday, Dr Patrick Molotsi who represented the party in the negotiations revealed that they have been allocated 15 constituencies in the preliminary allocation of negotiations. “Our wish is that the negotiations could be concluded by now but because of the complex nature of the negotiations we understand why we are still locked in them. Everything is going well and I want to assure the BNF family that we are going to continue to negotiate in best interests of advancing UDC,” he said.
Dr Molotsi also said what delayed the conclusion of negotiations is the fact that AP and BPF joined at different times and therefore such development time in and again forces the parties to starts afresh. “Parties are also still consulting their structures as form of feedback. There are also bilateral talks among the parties on number of issues. There is no big brother mentality displayed by any party at negotiation. BNF need all the negotiations. We are confident that constituencies will not cause any conflicts,” he said.
The BNF has been allocated Ghanzi North, Charles Hill, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Kanye East, Kanye West, Good Hope/ Mmathethe, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnington North, Takatokwane and Letlhakeng constituency respectively.
According to sources, some of the constituencies that have been allocated to AP so far include Gaborone Central, Mogoditshane, Gaborone Bonnigton South, Tati East Francistown South and Molepolole South.
BPF is said to have been bagged all Serowe constituencies and Nata/ Gweta while it still negotiates more for constituencies across central district such as Mahalapye, Palapye and Shoshong among others. It is also said a war is expected between UDC and BPF for both Mahalapye and Palapye constituencies. Currently, the two are under incumbency of UDC held by MPs David Tshere and Onneetse Ramogapi.
Contacted for a comment on Friday, BPF Secretary General Lawrence Ookeditse said the party cannot disclose now the constituencies that is has been allocated so far and those that is still negotiating for.
“What I can say at the moment is that there is progress and direction where the UDC and its member parties are heading. We know what we want as BPF just like other members do,” said Ookeditse briefly.
Meanwhile, political and administrative studies lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) Dr Adam Mfundisi has observed that the talks between UDC and other parties interested in joining the coalition are moving at snail’s pace with less information, but the 2024 general elections are less than a year now.
According to Mfundisi, the contentious issue of sharing constituencies must be navigated with due care and attention because it has the potential to cause the controversies and instability within the coalition.
“The process is sensitive, therefore needs strategic leadership in all participating parties. The parting of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has left a huge gap in the politics of the UDC which would be difficult to fill. Whatever propagandists from both side of the political divide say, the BCP was a major player in the coalition of political parties,” he observed, adding that BCP also going solo will not be an easy task.
He added: “Unfortunately, AP and BPF currently are faced with internal divisions undermining their bargaining power with the UDC. As things look, the negotiation will be concluded in 2024 closer to the general elections. The UDC should be worried as we are dealing with an unpredictable ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and its President who may call an early election and catch the UDC off-guard.”
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