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UDC is not the right vehicle for 2019 Elections – Saleshando

Charismatic Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader Dumelang Saleshando has stated that the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in its current form cannot win elections in 2019 General Elections.

Saleshando emphasised to Weekend Post in an interview this week that the UDC should re-formulate if they are to compete effectively in the coming elections of which the voter registration exercise commences this week. He said: “we are about to get into voter registration period, which is possibly the most critical stage of the campaign, and one finds it difficult to answer questions from the members of the public as to whether registering with intention to vote the UDC is a worthwhile undertaking.”

The BCP leader continued to point out that “I think at the end of the day, the fact is that we took long not to admit to the problems and I don’t think there is anyone who can say it is well in the UDC – it is unwell. It’s got to be fixed. If it can’t be fixed lets present a plan B to the nation.” According to Saleshando the UDC should accept now that this platform called the UDC may not be the right vehicle for 2019 General Elections and accept that there is instability and that they must explore an option B.

He told this publication: “the option B should ensure that at the bare minimum we should have the BNF and the BCP as strategic partners under one formation for 2019. It should not be an exclusive BCP/BNF arrangement but rather that, to the greatest extent possible, include other formations which in our view would add value without de-stabilising.” In terms of the model he said they will cross the bridge when they get there.

Saleshando: the nations is frustrated by the UDC tricks

The BCP leader continued: “I am genuinely frustrated by the impasse we find ourselves in. I am genuinely concerned about it. I even got people asking us whether the decision to join the UDC was really the right one.” “But I think we shouldn’t be asked such questions but they are being asked because the BMD leadership in particular is placing a number of bobby traps or roadblocks that make it difficult for the UDC,” Saleshando pointed out.

“We are not even walking; we are kraaling to 2019, as things stand. And I think our nation shares this frustration that we have long wanted an alternative and the opposition seems determined to deny us the alternative we need.” He added, “One can only say, maybe out of this dark cloud, and within the time remaining we can find a silver lining. But I think steps need to be taken.” So all these really point to the need for the opposition to get all its act together, he asserted.   


UDC lost support of labour movements

The former two time Gaborone Central legislator also observed that there is too much animosity in the UDC to the extent that it has lost a critical partner in the labour movement. He observed: “Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) it appears to me they have walked away quietly and that Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Sidney Pilane talked about them and they dismissed him out rightly – which was more revealing.” According to Saleshando, the current UDC doesn’t even have the confidence of people that supported it in 2014 and chances are it may not do well at the next polls.

Saleshando’s position on BMD leader Sidney Pilane

Saleshando described Pilane as thus: “the facts speak for themselves. The issue of Pilane has broken hearts, lost hopes. If you follow Pilane’s footsteps, you will see a trail of broken hearts, broken dreams, broken aspirations; it’s a broken record, starting with the BMD, BMD Youth league, not even sure if there is BMD Women’s league to talk of under his leadership.”

Also in the UDC, the BCP President continued: “you will see a bloody trail; you will see blood stains everywhere there is Pilane or where he has walked with the UDC. The glory days that we had before he came on board, of those massive rallies, where there was new hope are no more.”

We now have or rather say the glory days are now replaced with what we saw in Gabane, Saleshando said adding that Pilane has now turned the UDC into World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and that he is forever happy to be called when there is another show of opportunity for muscles by one comrade on another.

According to the BMD leader, truth be told, in politics one of the things you really need is integrity but “I don’t think the BMD leadership brings that integrity that we need in the UDC.” People ask me everyday gore naare le isa kae Pilane? Meaning people ask why Pilane is still part of them in the UDC, he said.

“Pilane’s attitude can be understood to be in the context of the fact that he leads a party that split. And because he knows that organizationally he has been severely weakened. His aggression may be a strategy to avoid questions being asked about the BMD. But again we may choose to ignore that but in ignoring it; we are going to have a repeat of Moshupa by election.”

In Moshupa Saleshando said the BNF tried to appeal to the BMD that they have strong numbers and asked them to stand but they refused and went on to lose the area. So he believes the weakest link was presented as the face of the UDC and cautioned that if they continue like that, Moshupa will be replicated in a number of areas.

Saleshando also highlighted that the BMD leader has shown determination in taking steps to undermine UDC president Duma Boko’s leadership especially in terms of the contentious issue of UDC constitution. He said: “I think it says a lot and I think Batswana will ask whether the UDC government will perform if given the mandate to rule if a subordinate (Pilane) undermines the UDC president and it becomes business as usual.”

Certainly, Saleshando pointed out that it is that kind of culture that is foreign to BCP; even the inaction by the UDC leaders is totally foreign to them. He said nonetheless they accept that in a coalition there is a shared space and one cannot impose their preferred way of doing things but hopes they will be able to impress upon other UDC colleagues on the need to “act” on some of the things before they got more toxic.

BCP leader speaks about Ndaba and AP

The UDC Vice President said he has not worked much with Ndaba Gaolathe, but when he looks at the public perception, which is very critical in the same way as the fact that the public is suspicious of Pilane; the public, it appears to him, does trust Ndaba. “I think we better with AP’s Ndaba than with the BMD so unfortunately with the benefit of working with the current BMD, there would add the spark that we need. I do think he has talents that the opposition needs,” he said.  

He also pointed out that, so, whether by walking away from the UDC was necessary or not shouldn’t be an issue really, as it amounts to crying over spilled milk. So the question should be can those talents be part of the reformulation that we need for 2019, and we need that reformulation, and so I think yes we do, he emphasised.

In the same token, Saleshando pointed out that the AP also needs to reflect, and do self introspection, as it’s not enough for them to say they were right on Pilane. “That alone cannot get them the votes. The reality of it is that the electoral system that we using will dissipate AP in 2019 should it stand alone, it may not survive beyond 2019. Politics is not a sprint but a marathon and how you run it is critical. Batswana are not looking for prophets on who was right on Pilane but they are looking for combined opposition that can offer alternative to the BDP. We also knew about Pilane’s track record.”

BDP is at its weakest, UDC should capitalise

On the BDP, Saleshando said the party is at its weakest point. “We can say it (BDP) presents what we can call mana from heaven for the opposition. It’s not the first time in the BDP that there are many casualties in primary elections as the members of cabinet just suffered. The message by Batswana is that they have lost confidence in the BDP leadership, and it’s a strong message countrywide particularly as most of them were on the first terms in parliament when they lost,” Saleshando asserted.  

He also said that, more worse is that the BDP is going into the coming elections with a grumpy former president Lt. Gen. Ian Khama, a former president who want to be treated as a sitting president, and wants to co-pilot with the sitting president in the cockpit. “He wants full access to OK 1 (official aircraft) and military planes. But like I said before, this is a case of chickens coming home to roost for the BDP as they created Khama. They are reaping what they have sown all these years and my response is that so ‘let them lie on the bed they prepared.’”


On Masisi, he also attacked him saying he is simply a beneficiary of an undemocratic system whereby one person elects his preferred president on our behalf adding that “I am not even sure if Masisi would have been anywhere in the race if it was purely a democratic race.” According to Saleshando, even though it cannot be justified he said he can understand why Khama is an unhappy man at the moment because of Masisi.

“Khama is possibly thinking that Masisi was totally unknown and irrelevant when he fought for his victory in 2014 and that he catapulted him, while he was a political novice and politically malnourished, and went on to make him Vice President and Chairman. Then now he uses the energy he secured for BDP victories to reverse everything he did. I am not saying is justification but it maybe what going though Khama’s mind now,” he said. He also said Masisi should take stern action on Khama and not play naïve or ‘hear or see no evil’ when the clearly the former president is bringing down his lieutenants.

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