THE UDC TROUBLES
There is a groundswell of opinion that the ongoing infighting in the opposition coalition would be minimal if the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had done a comprehensive evaluation of the 2019 general elections.
Both in the run-up to the elections and post-elections, there were accusations and counter-accusations within the UDC with partners accusing each other of underhand tactics motivated by the desire to promote partisan as opposed to the interests of the collective.
In particular, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was accused by both the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) of either de-campaigning their coalition partners or trafficking their members from the wards or constituencies allocated to their partners to those allocated to the BCP.
The BCP is alleged to have de-campaigned the president of the BPP Motlatsi Molapisi leading to his loss in the 2019 general elections. BPP and BNF activists have complained that the BCP tendency to compete instead of collaborating with partners is an old one.
When the BPP lost the Kalakamate ward by-election in 2016, there was an outcry within the BPP accompanied by allegations that instead of voting for the BPP candidate, the BCP campaigned for the BDP.
There have also been allegations that the BCP trafficked their members from the wards and constituencies allocated to their partners to those allocated to their party.
“With so much distrust within the coalition, an evaluation would have allowed the UDC to identify partners’ underhand tactics and call the culprits to order. The trust levels would be normal and conducive for cooperation,” a BNF veteran said on condition of anonymity.
His view is that had the UDC president, Advocate Duma Boko “not rushed” to the courts alleging election rigging of the 2019 general elections by the ruling party, but instead constituted a team of experts to evaluate the elections, there would be peace and unity in the three-party coalition, as opposed to the infightings that are threatening the project.
The BNF members complain that Boko was divisive as he was selective in the distribution of campaign material such as cash and t-shirts. Boko helped the BCP at the expense of his own party candidates, it is alleged.
“This divided us. At this stage, reconciliation will not work. Boko must go. If he goes, the leaders of the parties would then identify convenors and go on a retreat where they will elect an interim leadership which would then work on an elective congress in 2023,” suggested a distraught BNF member, who believes that without trust, there can be no moving forward.
According to Themba Joina, a lawyer-cum-politician, failure by the UDC leadership to conduct a post-mortem, especially after the magnitude of the loss in terms of margins and the loss of unlikely wards and constituencies, is a sign of bad governance and lack of transparency on the part of the leaders.
“This does not reflect positively on the UDC leadership as it is not prudent to do that. This incompetence of the leaders could lead to the collapse of the project.
“An evaluation would have discovered whatever negative tendencies were at play and have them addressed. Parties that are accusing each other would have been counselled and reconciliation achieved long back,” Joina said.
He advised the UDC to seek the services of a third-party whenever they are in a bind and cannot move forward.
“Despite all that has happened, it is not too late to meet and find common ground,” observed Joina.
University of Botswana (UB), political science lecturer, Professor Zibani Maundeni is of the view that instead of crying over spilled milk, the UDC must accept the fact that there is no audit and move forward while ensuring that, “campaign teams are constituted by an equal number of cadres from each contracting partner.”