UDC denies stalling inaugural congress


“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground”. That is just a quote from a fantasy TV show except that it sums up the real and current situation between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana National Front (BNF).

BCP wants to take over the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) presidency through a congress but BNF has made it clear that it would not have any of that.

The UDC, which is a tri-party coalition party also formed by the hushed Botswana People’s Party (BPP), cannot have two presidents therefore one of BNF and BCP has to give up its desire to the throne.

By contesting on opposites recently in the Bophirima ward by-election, the BCP and the BNF have already shown everyone that they are not willing to compromise despite the fact that they are both affiliated to the UDC. The BCP, which feels that it has been left in the trenches by the BNF for so long, will finally close this chapter and the BNF will choose whether to bend or risk letting the whole opposition coalition structure collapse.

There is no option where the two warring parties can meet halfway so they are currently playing the game of thrones where one must do whatever is necessary to win. Now that both parties are heading to the UDC NEC on May 21, 2022, the BCP president who is also the UDC vice president, Dumelang Saleshando will give UDC and BNF president Duma Boko an ultimatum, something that will finally put the issue to bed. Saleshando and his BCP had long been pushing for an inaugural UDC congress, a move insiders say Boko does not entertain in fear of losing his grip on the ‘people’s project’.

A source told Mmegi that Saleshando and the BCP are ready for two outcomes which are either winning their quest with Boko or risking the wrath of the voters like it happened in 2014 when they pulled out of the coalition talks. Deep down, it said that Saleshando knows that the recent association with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) cannot help them to dethrone the ruling Botswana for Democratic Party (BDP) but being consistently dwarfed by Boko and his BNF is also not an option.

The BCP has indicated its grown tiredness of BNF’s big brother mentality while the latter is cautious that its very own splinter-party intends to usurp the house it was let into in the first place. The source further told this publication that the BCP insists that all parties must be represented at the level of Presidents during the planned negotiations for the 2024 general election. “It is anticipated that the upcoming Presidential Forum will be established to resolve deadlocks emanating from the negotiation teams.

The BCP position is informed by the fact that the UDC is not a unitary political formation but a coalition of independent political parties. In fact, all parties are represented at the lower level of negotiation teams.

This emerged at the last meeting of leaders of political parties where the President of the BCP was present. The leaders agreed to the BCP proposal,” the source further stated. It is also said that the BCP believes that Boko is conflicted as demonstrated by the recent Bophirima by-election. “They have lost confidence in him as someone who cannot represent the interest of the UDC partners. Clearly, the UDC leader will find ways of objecting. It is anticipated that Boko will use the UDC NEC planned for May 6, 2022 to reverse the decision of the Presidential Forum, a move that will be resisted by the BCP. On the other hand, the position of the BPP is unclear but it has consistently endorsed proposals from BNF even where they go against issues of good governance.

For example, in the past the BPP supported the BNF that consensus means majority role. Since then decisions at the UDC NEC are arrived at by voting thus allowing the BNF and the BPP to gang up against BCP,” the source highlighted.

Saleshando told Mmegi this week that the Boko-led UDC believes there is a natural UDC leader who is Boko and anyone who wants to propose leadership elections as democracy dictates is actually offending.

He said they have always complained about the way things are run before the UDC meeting in Palapye last year but nothing has changed since and even their correspondence rarely gets the acknowledgement.

Although Saleshando acknowledged that things are not as bad when it comes to his personal relations with the UDC leader, he indicated that the problem arises when Boko sits on the UDC presidential seat.

Contacted for comment, Boko said he could not comment because he was preparing for an international trip. Boko then referred Mmegi to UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa who indicated that the delay to address certain issues in the UDC was because the latter is a coalition therefore, cannot operate like a normal party such as the BNF and the BCP. Asked about the delay in hosting the inaugural UDC congress, which Saleshando and the BCP is pushing for, Mohwasa explained that BCP was present during a meeting in Palapye last year where all the three parties in the coalition agreed to halt the congress until negotiations with other political parties are over.

He said among some of the resolutions was for the coalition members to scrutinise the UDC constitution and make recommendations on how the latter can be enhanced. “At the moment the UDC is still waiting for those recommendations from member parties,” he added.

Looking back, Mohwasa indicated that when the UDC was formed, there was no clear clause about a congress since member parties were just allocated positions in the agreement. He added that the agreement was to reflect on the congress issue but this was deferred when the BCP was brought into the coalition talks after the 2014 general elections.

“We couldn’t subject the BCP to a congress when they had just joined the UDC,” he further explained.

He said the congress issue was then postponed again to after 2019 elections but now the only stumbling block is the opposition talks coupled with constituency negotiations.

Mohwasa also said for now they cannot hold a congress before the negotiations are complete. “That will amount to excluding potential UDC members from the congress, they can’t just come in as ordinary members,” he further clarified.

In terms of committing to a timeline as to when the talks will be expected to be complete, Mohwasa said it will depend on primary elections and issues of members who breach the coalition agreement.

While the BCP has openly complained about issues of unilateralism in the UDC, Mohwasa defended Boko saying that it is not true that the latter takes decisions on his own.

He said the BCP as an affiliate is always part of the UDC decisions like any other party in the tri-party alliance. Mohwasa refuted allegations that the BNF and the BPP gang up against the BCP when it comes to decisions at the top level. He said there is now way Boko could control the BPP when the latter did not even agree to BCP joining the UDC in the first

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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