MAUN: The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over the weekend delivered what is thought to be a significant warning sign that the ruling Botswana Democratic (BDP) might be headed for a stiff competition at the general elections billed for later this year.
The coalition movement staged what some people believe could go down as one of the biggest political events in the history of the party.
Perhaps as an indication of the level of attendance, the 8,000 seater Maun Sports Complex was almost filled to capacity. Only a few pockets of sitting space were not occupied. Prior to the launch, the UDC also held a march against corruption that also attracted an impressive attendance.
In a way, the well -organised launch also highlighted the growing resource availability to the UDC. Other pundits at the event even averred that the seemingly growing financial resources of the UDC might be a pointer that money might not be a determining factor at the next general elections.
In that regard, parties might have to compete based on ideology. The BDP has in the past elections been accused of using money to its sustain its stay in power while the opposition is widely known to be under resourced.
Additionally, the manifesto launch is probably the biggest opportunity for a political movement to sway the minds of the voters. The UDC president, Duma Boko did not disappoint. In line with that, the UDC leader ditched his usual flowery English in favour of Setswana. Where he resorted to English, it was not laced with his usual big words as it has been the case before.
From his speech, it was evident he wanted to appeal to a cross section of Batswana and not just UDC followers.
Infact, if the response from party diehards and some ordinary Batswana is anything to go by, then his message reached its audience. Boko’s speech appeared to have elicited so much joy, not only from UDC supporters but some ordinary Batswana too.
While the UDC has often been accused of offering few details about how it intends to implement some of its economic reforms, Boko and his vice, Dumelang Saleshando laid down the party’s action plan in relation to the new manifesto.
On other issues, Boko explained that his party is committed to investing in the hemp industry. He said that the industry alone has the potential to create many meaningful jobs to Batswana.
“Our manifesto is also backed by the position of various experts whose ability we do not doubt,” he said.
Prior to Boko’s address, vice president Saleshando also extensively dealt with the UDC action plan in reference to economic reforms. He said that the UDC will fund its economic reforms from alternative revenue including borrowing from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund.
He added that the money that will come from tax revenues once the UDC government has increased salaries to a taxable income of P3, 000 as well as creation of additional jobs would also be used to fund other areas that can grow the economy.
“We will also give the DCEC more powers to fight corruption which would ultimately result in low instances where the country loses a lot money due to corruption,”he said, referring to the graft-busting Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.
The UDC firebrand added that once in power the coalition movement would ensure that the economy was run by Batswana to avoid instances where profits were not ploughed back into the economy to create jobs. He said the profits made by Batswana, once they were granted control of the country’s economy, will be invested in other productive areas of the economy.
Saleshando further said that the government would borrow from international reserves and construct modern highways. He said that the highways would have tollgates that would ultimately help the country to generate funds to finance other aspects of the economy.
“Amongst other things, once voted into power we would reduce military expenditure in order to finance initiatives that would help us to improve the lives of Batswana,” he said.