This is a huge milestone for Botswana politics. For the last 46 years the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won all the general elections. For other people, the BDP's landslide victories were a result of a fragmented opposition.
The true picture has always been that if people who vote for opposition parties during elections are put together in some areas, they far outnumber those of the BDP. But because opposition parties are fragmented, this obviously gives advantage to the BDP.
There is talk that Batswana have been agitating for the cooperation of the opposition parties and if that is the case, their expectations have been fulfilled. The focus is now on 2014 when the country will be going to the general elections. Whether this merger of the three parties will deliver the desired results, is anybody's guess.
The launch of the UDC comes in the backdrop of the Umbrella winning the Sebele ward by-election last weekend.This could not have been a more perfect timing for them. The three parties were represented by the Botswana Movement for Democracy. Already some people are talking, indicating that the win for the Umbrella was a test to see how the combined opposition can do during an election.
And according to them, they have indeed passed the test with flying colours. The main obstacle for the opposition is that not all are in the coalition. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) broke away from the talks. There have been efforts to lure them back to the talks but this has not paid fruits. Obviously there are things that they are not happy with. Probably it would have added more value to the effort of opposition coalition if they were part of the Umbrella.
We believe that the UDC is not an exercise in futility. Batswana have invested their hopes in this and they would not want to be disappointed by any squabbles. Such initiatives have been tried before and they just died a natural death and this of course disappoints voters who in the process stay away from voting. Talk about voter apathy!