Pressure mounts on Boko post Bophirima

UDC leaders. Saleshando and Boko PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
UDC leaders. Saleshando and Boko PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES

Despite his party emerging victorious in the Bophirima ward by-elections recently, more pressure seems to be mounting on the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president Duma Boko, Writes Mmegi Staffer MOMPATI TLHANKANE

In the weeks leading to the by-election until now, Boko has been trying to tread carefully with the people’s project in the midst of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) defiance and fallout with his deputy, Dumelang Saleshando. With the strain of dealing with the Bophirima fracas mounting on him, Boko has been careful on confrontation.

Even though the BCP viewed Boko’s decision to field Mankie Sekete as a hard line stance, he appears to be playing his cards very close to his chest to avoid any issues that could collapse the umbrella. Although it was public knowledge that Bophirima ward divided the UDC, Boko had been painting a picture of a house in order. When the BCP national executive committee (NEC) labelled him a dictator who operates UDC without proper governance and consultations at a press brief last month, the Botswana National Front (BNF) leader Boko did not respond to such issues.

He knew that as a leader if he does not say the right words, he could compound the already troubled opposition parties’ coalition. But the former leader of opposition in Parliament finally broke silence recently during his UDC presidential tour in Gantsi indicating that he is not a dictator who takes decisions on his own. Post Sekete’s win, this past weekend, Boko was put on the spot to state what could be next for the coalition's relationship with the BCP going forward. Boko told the media that they are one with the BCP and what unites them is greater than what could divide them. He also said those who were infuriated by the weekend by-election result should introspect because the voters have spoken. Boko stated that the UDC leadership, which also includes Saleshando will meet soon in Palapye to iron out issues and map a way forward. “We are going to do what is necessary.

In due time we will come back and announce the decisions that have been taken. We don’t want to be impatient because we are people who do not rush to talking or making hurried decisions. We are prudent and are people who take time to evaluate situations so that when we speak, we don’t blurt out anything,” he revealed. The former Gaborone Bonnington North legislator also said he believes that everything that has happened with the UDC recently occurred so that in the end, the dust could settle. Deep rifts within the two main political camps of the UDC do not bode well for followers and some BCP MPs have been torn between the two. “We are confident about the structures of the UDC.

We hope and have full faith and confidence that this will be resolved at the meeting. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the one that takes decisions and scrutinises issues. I am confident that appropriate decisions will be taken,” he further indicated. Boko added that actions according to those decisions will also follow. After the BCP announced that it would contest Bophirima ward with their own colours and symbol, something it eventually did, many wondered what would become of the party and whether it will attract any disciplinary action from the UDC.

In the end, Boko said he hoped that their decisions at the impending meeting will open a path for the UDC. He pointed out that the path to 2024 is already being revealed by the people’s feelings and decisions. Boko indicated that their road is shown by what people want and how they voted recently. “I thank people for their decisions and I am also happy,” he said. Boko also said the weekend result shows that people are not happy with their livelihoods. He said people believe that a turnaround for their situations is necessary.

He said voters demonstrated to the whole country that UDC is the only party that can represent the voice of the people. It has now become clear that both the BNF and the BCP sides are vying for a resolution that is either in their favour, or gives each party a slight edge. As a result, Boko has a mountain to climb amid rumours of the formation of new coalition consisting of the BCP and the Alliance for Progressives (AP).

The upcoming UDC leadership meeting might become a protracted dialogue and it is a scenario that only a great leader could solve. From the look of things, Boko is now forced to become a politically and ideologically neutral figure in order to forge a coalition ahead of the 2024 general election.

Editor's Comment
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