Ernesto's BRIEFS

Now you can prepare yourself for two coalitions against the Botswana Democratic Party in the 2024 general elections.

It’s done! The sun has set on the mighty Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) – the only viable project that Cde Duma Boko can, with all justification, claim credit for.

We all remember how trying to unite opposition parties has always evaded past leaders, including the likes of Knight Maripe and Kenneth Koma.

But to be fair to Koma, he founded the Botswana National Front ostensibly as a platform to unite the different interest groups, but the ultimate aim, being to one day topple the Botswana Democratic Party.

The UDC has, admittedly become the political game changer since that near-miss by the BNF in 1994, when it was clear it was going to emerge victorious only to drop the ball by a whisker.

At that time, BNF polled an impressive 11 Members of Parliament - a stunning victory by all means, which certainly scared the wits out of a cowering BDP! But Koma’s 1994 showing pales in comparison to UDC’s 13 MPs in 2019.

But it was just a matter of time before it all came crashing down! And you can lay the blame squarely at the leader’s doorstep! Boko is Dr. Koma’s doppelganger- both men intelligent, witty and politically-savvy.

But there’s always a danger lurking in leaders blessed with such attributes. Foremost, they tend to dwarf the organisations they lead and eventually they subconsciously develop dictatorial tendencies.

They loathe advice from others, their opinion counts for policy and their word is the law. In this way, such leaders run afoul of all organisational structures designed to direct the organisation.

But because it is all about them, they usually don’t see and don’t hear until it is way too late! Such has become the fate of the UDC under President Boko. We all know that UDC is not really a political party per se, but a working arrangement for opposition parties to canvass votes in a bid to eject the BDP from power.

All the contracting parties, to wit, BNF, Botswana Congress Party and Botswana People’s Party (BPP) – are first and foremost political entities in their own right recognised duly so, by the Registrar of Societies!

Secondly, they are contracting parties to the arrangement that is called UDC. For the longest time since the UDC was formally registered, there have been unrelenting calls to democratise its business.

And the only way to do this, it was argued, was to convene a Congress at which the UDC executive would be elected and other issues relating to awarding of constituencies, thrashed out!

But the UDC leader has consistently spurned all those overtures in spectacular media conferences at which he held the masses of his followers and the press corps in awe of his oratory abilities! Now, with the help of hindsight, I suppose the leader can see clearly where he deviated from addressing the substance.

I pray he does because the country needs a strong alternative to the ruling party! I am sceptical of prospects of two coalitions facing off against the BDP in the 2024 general election – but that is certainly where we are headed.

I hear that three representatives from the BCP and another three from the Alliance for Progressives may already have been selected to start talks about a cooperation model by the end of this month (April).

This happened consequent to a meeting of all the UDC cooperating partners including those that have signed Memoranda of Agreement with the UDC at which these partners were told that it’s either the UDC or the Highway!

Now, as you may remember, the Alliance for Progressive (AP) are fundamental liberals, so naturally they took offence to being given an ultimatum and the same goes for BCP, which naturally feels that it is the bona-fide leader of opposition given its numbers in Parliament!

However, as for Jonny Come Lately - Botswana Patriotic Front - there were divisions and the scales tipped in the favour of the major bankroller-cum-patron, the self-exiled SKI Khama, the former president of the republic and his fellow sojourner, Samson Moyo Guma, who apparently, is eyeing the party’s presidency at the next congress.

So, to be true, the BPF will be prevaricating between the UDC and the envisaged opposition cooperation model which should take shape at the earliest mid this year, but then again, this all depends on the outcome of the BPF congress. It’s a wait and see game!

As for the country’s oldest political party - the Botswana People’s Party – which, if wishes were horses, could be leading the UDC, there was not even a whimper after that injunction or should we just say that ultimatum!

To the BPP, indeed it is either the UDC or the Highway! It sees no other way, but that is not to mean that they will tolerate dictatorial tendencies or being trampled upon simply because their mere survival depends on the existence of the UDC, No!

So, we can all brace for a very exciting political year ahead in which the UDC’s presence in Parliament will be severely undermined while the prospect of a brand new opposition cooperation model plays out in the sidelines.

What animal will his be nobody knows for now. Will it include the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), or the Real Alternative Party (RAP) or will it appeal to the disgruntled Specially-Elected Members of Parliament (SEMP) – we are all biding our time.

What is clear however, is that the BCP rank and finally feel like birds that have just flown out of a cage, they are liberated and resurgent! Of-course the BNF will feel hard done by the BCP! Not only does BNF see itself as the Big Brother, it claims credit for BCP’s electoral fortunes in the past general election through UDC.

But when everything has been said and done, all this is politics – a game of numbers, where there are no permanent foes or allies! Today you see Boko with Dumelang Saleshando, tomorrow it is Saleshando with Ndaba Gaolathe and the next day it is Boko with Khama!

Who would have ever thought there would be a marriage between the BPF and the BNF? I remember Dr. Koma once telling the EEC journal, The Courier, that there were no major policy differences between the BNF and the BDP, the two parties were pulling in the same direction, and when I pointed it out to him, he said they had misquoted him!

Classic, quintessential Dr. KK! And certainly DGB, the Advocate, a former Khama basher, has not disappointed!