- Boko has not forgiven Saleshando's decision to grace Masisi's inaguration

The conflict-prone and perennially fractious Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition may return from its June 25th meeting reduced to only two partners.

The coalition consists of the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BCP), the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). The third partner, the BCP is likely to be expelled from the collective.

“The BCP has been very intransigent for a long time especially with respect to their penchant to address internal UDC differences through the media.

“In particular, the UDC found itself having to chide the BCP on the party’s tendency to share sensitive UDC issues with the media back in 2021. Nothing changed,” an activist close to the UDC leadership told this publication.

She continued, “The possibility of the UDC expelling the BCP from the coalition on June 25th has been a reality since the last NEC meeting in Palapye where the June 25th date was announced.

“Matters have since come to a head after the BCP had a meeting with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) a few weeks back,” said the source, who blamed the BCP for having blundered into a meeting with the AP fully aware that this contravened the MoU signed by all the three UDC partners including the BCP.

Reportedly, the sour relationship between UDC president, Duma Boko and his deputy, Dumelang Saleshando is not new.

Allegedly, Boko is still unhappy that his deputy, Saleshando, went ahead and attended the inauguration of Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi as the 5th President of Botswana after winning the 2019 general elections.

Boko, who had insisted right from the onset that the elections were rigged, had ordered that the UDC boycott the event. Saleshando did not join the chorus of UDC activists who alleged the Masisi win was the product of some massive rigging by the incoming President.

Asked what she thought would be the impact of a BCP expulsion, the source commented, “The impact would be huge. The bottom line though is that a Boko-Saleshando axis cannot work. The two are simply incompatible and cannot work together.

“Suggestions in the media that the two leaders should give way to a more objective and open minded leadership makes sense except that it might be a difficult if not equally risky undertaking,” the source noted.

Meanwhile, should the BCP leave on its own or be expelled from the UDC, the two will face-off at the Moselewapula ward by-election whose date is yet be announced. The late councillor, Reuben Kethoilwe whose death has necessitated the by-election, was a BCP activist.

The escalation of hostilities between the two parties has led to uncertainty about whether the BPP and BNF will campaign for their partner, the BCP or whether the two will compete against it.

In recent media reports, the BPP and BNF pledged to support the BCP candidate should the party contest under the UDC colours as opposed to its own colours.

Indications are however, that competition is more likely than collaboration within the UDC. Boko, Molapisi and Ignatius Moswaane, the BPP official who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown west constituency where the ward is, are addressing a rally on Saturday June 18th.

No high-profile BCP activist is expected to grace the occasion, according to sources. Saleshando allegedly said he would not be available.

Also, the BPP has identified a candidate who is ready to contest against the BCP and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidates in equal measure should the BCP be expelled or choose to contest outside the UDC as it happened at Bophirima recently.

The Secretary General of the BPP, Nono Kgafela-Mokoka has confirmed the rally to this publication adding that all coalition partners have been invited.

“This is not a BPP or BCP rally. It is a UDC rally and all UDC members are expected to attend. All the stakeholders have been invited,” Kgafela-Mokoka said when asked whether the BCP leader, who is also the vice president of the UDC, will be in attendance.

Kgafela-Mokoka distanced herself from allegations that the BCP may be expelled from the UDC.

“I know nothing about the intended expulsion of the BCP or any party because there is nothing of that sort in the agenda,” she said.

For her part, the publicity secretary of the BCP, Mpho Pheko said in an interview that the BCP is not expecting to be expelled for any of the alleged transgressions.

“We believe ours are legitimate concerns particularly that the right channels in the form of NEC meetings are often unavailable,” Pheko said.

Regarding her party’s meeting with the AP, Pheko said, “There is nothing wrong with like-minded parties holding a meeting. The BNF and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) have had bilateral meetings!”

The deputy Secretary General of the BPP, Tiroyaone Ntsima, believes the establishment of a conflict resolution structure is critical for the unity and future of the UDC.

“In the absence of that structure however, the BCP could escalate their problems with the UDC president to the UDC chairman, Molapisi. That includes the governance issues they have referred to,” Ntsima suggested.