UDC cracks BDP strongholds

Voters had the final say. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Voters had the final say. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

The tri-party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has seemingly outperformed itself in the just-ended general election in the northern constituencies.

This is a first in the history of Botswana politics, for the opposition to dislodge the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from its long held traditional stronghold of GammaNgwato.

The emergence of the BDP breakaway party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is hailed as a kingmaker in this election. The UDC, which had a few constituencies north of Dibete cordon fence, through its partner, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has worked very hard and was awake to the winds of change blowing across the northern region.

The UDC from the 2014 general election was strong south of Dibete cordon fence, but from this year’s election that is just history. The formation of the BPF was a blessing in disguise for the UDC which didn’t have any formal working relationship with the new-kid-on-the-political-block although the inaugural patron of the BPF, Ian Khama made confusing statements about a working relationship with the UDC.

It goes without saying that the BPF played a crucial role in marking the BDP out of the political game in many crucial constituencies. The BDP was confused in its counter strategies because it might have focused its attention on the seemingly well resourced UDC and moved its eyes from the marauding BPF, which came as a shocker at the 11th hour.

From the 2014 general election, the BCP, which chose to approach the elections as a single entity, had proper structures in the northern constituencies than its partners.

So, the efforts of the tri-party partners were a great move that helped the UDC solidify its position as a united force. The joint efforts of the parties paid off at last as the opposition voice will be raised in Parliament although it will be a regional affair.

For the UDC to have swept two Selebi-Phikwe constituencies, two Mahalapye constituencies, Palapye, Shoshong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Tonota, Nkange and others as counting continues within the CDC and outside, is testimony that the BDP is already the greatest loser in the northern areas.

But, BDP is a greater winner in the southern constituencies. The BPF has swept the three Serowe constituencies, which have diametrically weakened the strength of the BDP, another Assistant Minister, Kgotla Autlwetse was dislodged.

The UDC influence has spread to the far-flung constituencies within the north in Ngamiland, Okavango and Maun amongst others.  At Boteti-West, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane is given a run for his money by his usual tormenter, Sam Digwa.

During the counting, their results have been a see-saw affair with no definite winner. UDC president Duma Boko might have lost re-election, but he gathers solace from the fact that his party has redeemed itself in the north after a whitewash in the south. If it is a lesson, it is well learnt for the UDC team and they will know where to concentrate their efforts in the next general election.

Boko might have lost, but as a leader, University of Botswana academic and political scientist, Adam Mfundisi says has greater attributes; from humble beginnings to great heights, challenging privilege in our society.

He said in a recent interview that Boko has been able to form a formidable union of diverse political formations and steer it through hard times.  “He is a strategic leader who is visionary, charismatic, and an effective communicator. Together with his high command, they have crafted a manifesto that is at the centre of national debate. It identifies sections of the population, their problems and possible solutions,” posits Mfundisi.

He says Boko has adopted a collective leadership style that promotes participation and involvement of a broad section of the leadership and beyond. 

Boko’s main weakness, he says, is that there are integrity issues where there are allegations of tax evasion and association with dubious characters. “All of these allegations against him have had political connotations. He credits Boko to have worked tirelessly to spread the message of hope and progress.

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