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High noon as UDC NEC meets

RYDER GABATHUSE
High noon as UDC NEC meets
FRANCISTOWN: National Executive Committee (NEC) of Botswana’s main opposition party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), will this weekend meet in Francistown to evaluate the 2019 general election.

This is a very important meeting that will help the coalition partners iron out a number of outstanding issues. Nearly a year later, the UDC never met to evaluate its performance and chat the way forward after the general election.

The three parties making up the umbrella have mainly been running their individual businesses, raising speculations that the coalition might be headed for yet another break-up.

Since the 2019 general election, the Advocate Duma Boko-led tri-party coalition never had the opportunity to openly celebrate the 15 parliamentary and council seats that the alliance mainly won north of the Dibete cordon fence.

Instead, the UDC petitioned the results of the 2019 general election after it strongly felt that there was ‘rigging’, especially in many of its traditional strongholds south of the Dibete cordon fence after a dismal performance.

Uncharacteristic of any political party, the UDC coalition parties made up of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) never met to do postmortem of the general election. This was one of the runs that the UDC had hoped to topple the ruling party.

On a sad note, the main opposition party meet at a time when the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was waiting anxiously to cash P10 million in legal costs from the failed UDC 2019 election petitions.

The tri-party coalition comes to Francistown with 16 legislators to their fold after the maverick Francistown-West MP, Ignatius Moswaane became the latest politician to abandon the ruling party for the coalition partners.

Moswaane directly joined the UDC instead of joining one of the umbrella party members.

His (Moswaane’s) case was complicated by the fact that already there are politicians eyeing Francistown West in the 2024 general election, leaving the constituency already overcrowded with interested parties. In 2019, the constituency was allocated to the BPP. Moswaane had won it under the BDP ticket.

The UDC gathers solace from the fact that its legislators continue to add value to the national debate in Parliament.

The UDC is also fully aware that more disgruntled BDP legislators were likely to join

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their ranks, as currently talk is abound that Mephato Reatile, MP for Jwaneng-Mabutsane who is not in good terms with his party leadership, might be the latest to jump ship.

BDP Jwaneng-Mabutsane civic leaders recently denounced Reatile, leaving his position even more vulnerable at the BDP after he was earlier in the year slapped with a six-month suspension from the party. As a former BNF activist, there is talk that he might retrace his footsteps back to his former political home.

The UDC will come to Francistown troubled by the seemingly deteriorating relationship between the Leader of Opposition (LoO) in Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando and the suspended opposition chief whip, Pono Moatlhodi.

Although Moatlhodi’s issue has been attended to within the party structures, it seems there are those siding with the Tonota MP commonly known as ‘PPP’ for his strong views that he was not properly consulted when a decision was taken to suspend him.

Moatlhodi, who faces a criminal charge of assault, has since offered to compensate the child after an agreement was thrashed out.

Whilst Moatlhodi recently claimed that he only learnt about his suspension on the floor of Parliament, the explanation by Saleshando was that he had time with Moatlhodi and the matter was also discussed with the UDC president, Boko.

To probably reflect the extent of his anger, Moatlhodi recently sided with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, blaming Saleshando for using un-parliamentary language even after he (Saleshando) charged that the President was shortsighted, which the Speaker of the National Assembly, Phandu Skelemani found no fault with.

This is one of the issues that the UDC would deal with at that highest level as the matter has now metamorphosed into rivalry of some sort.

UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that the UDC has a scheduled NEC meeting but was tightlipped on the agenda.

He said one of the UDC leaders, Motlatsi Molapise comes from Francistown, and therefore, it was only fitting that the party leaders congregate in the second city.

“The outcome of the meeting will be shared in a post meeting press conference,” was all Mohwasa could muster.



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