FRANCISTOWN: The spokesperson of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Moeti Mohwasa, has revealed that the coalition will still carry on with its national executive committee (NEC) retreat at the appropriate time.
Mohwasa said the retreat is intended to foster unity and connectedness following the acrimonious relationship that developed especially between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) in the coalition. Tensions had spiralled out of control between supporters of the two parties on social media and other platforms.
Some supporters of the BCP and BNF even traded insults over the former’s insistence that an elective congress should be held in order to afford members of the coalition the opportunity to choose the president of the UDC. Some members of the BNF read malice in the decision of the BCP to democratise the UDC, which further widened fault lines between the BCP and BNF.
They saw it as a smokescreen to remove the current leader of the BNF, Duma Boko, as the president of the UDC and replace him with the president of BCP, Dumelang Saleshando following the BCP’s stellar performance in the 2019 general election. The other member of the tripartite alliance is the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) which has been largely spared of the ruckus within the UDC. The UDC is now courting the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) to join the umbrella in order to forge a united front against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Although Mohwasa was not explicit with the date on which the retreat will be held, he stated that it will be held at a date that will be communicated in due course. “The UDC is currently focused on by-elections but will hold the retreat at a later stage,” said Mohwasa briefly.
The retreat was supposed to be held during the first week of August last year but was postponed indefinitely owing to COVID-19 restrictions. The decision to hold a party retreat was reached at a UDC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Palapye last year in July as a strategy to allow both parties to cool off and boost the spirit of connectedness amongst them.
The recommendation was made following months of tension amongst the coalition partners. Then, the BCP also accused other UDC partners of not adhering to proper governance protocols when running affairs of the coalition. On the other hand, other UDC parties accused the BCP of deliberately snubbing key coalition activities for political expediency.
However, since the July 2021 UDC NEC meeting, parties in the coalition have appeared more united.
The retreat appeared to be what the doctor had ordered and even culminated with Saleshando, who is currently the Leader of Opposition (LoO) in Parliament following Boko’s unexpected loss of the Gaborone Bonnington North constituency during the 2019 general elections and Boko going on a weekend jamboree in Maun. However, the jury is still out whether the semblance of peace that has partly engulfed the UDC following the Palapye convention will continue forever.