With just a little over a year before the much awaited crucial 2019 General Elections, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko seems unfazed about the state of affairs within the coalition and is as adamant as ever they will win.
This is notwithstanding the fact that like in 2014, a part of the coalition has pulled out. In 2014, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) pulled out of the conglomerate of opposition parties under UDC; and this year, the coalition bore a splinter party of the Botswana Movement of Democracy dubbed Alliance for Progressives (AP). AP seems set to face UDC and ruling Botswana Democratic Change (BDP) at the polls.
The UDC President told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview in Gaborone this week that “there is absolutely no doubt, we are going to win the next 2019 General Elections”. Boko however maintained that, “not alone but together with others because ultimately it’s about coming together and winning (which we are going to win) – hell or high waters. Make no mistake about that.”
According to Boko, “UDC is rolling at the moment and it is unstoppable. That’s what I can say. I don’t want to pronounce on any other person. And when I talk about the UDC I mean everyone.” So, the question of whether “I will step down as promised if the UDC doesn’t win,” he says about losing elections in 2019, “does not arise but in any case I have already made a pronouncement on that (to step down after then).” “We are winning elections in 2019 so we will be serving this country in different capacities,” he said confidently.
However Boko also told this publication that there will be challenges along the way; as they expect that to happen, and so when these challenges come or people differ and disagree it doesn’t mean there is or will be disintegration in the party. In his alleged difference with some BNF Central Executive Committee members in the mold of party Vice President Prince Dibeela, Gantsi North legislator Noah Salakae whom it is understood accuses the BNF leader of running the party almost like a remote control and having no regard for process and procedure, he clarified that he strictly follows the constitution as is.
“There are no differences whatsoever. BNF President exercises certain powers given or vested to him by the constitution of the party and he uses those powers judiciously,” Boko justified. He then went on to point out that he is a thinker and thrives on engagement. “I am a thinker. I am by habit, training and practice, a lawyer and a jurist. I thrive on engagement. That’s my life blood. So when I get engaged by whomever and you think this man in under siege, no, I am actually having fun.
That’s when am at my best when I enjoy myself the most. Because I know, either the views I hold will prevail or as I would have assessed them or engage with anybody on them because I know I will prevail. I know I have the skills to prevail, the temperament to prevail. But also if my views turn out to be weak, I embrace the stronger view points and life moves on.”
Boko gave an example of BNF having experienced turmoil during his tenure. So he said at the time BNF had to go through a process of refinement and cleansing for it to be in the UDC – “it had to shed some baggage.” According to Boko, the BNF did that otherwise they could not have entered this process. It had to purify itself and go through a process of propagation on a grander scale and that’s what’s going through at the UDC, he highlighted.
Boko emphasised that the matter has to be about the substance of what “we are offering and not the personalities”. “People come and go. Principles must abide. That’s what matters. I can go, anytime. But the principles from which I stood will inform those who come after. It’s not about Boko.” He also stressed that opposition in Botswana is not bewitched. “It is just fine. Contradiction is the very essence of things. It’s about refinement,” he said.
So, UDC does not need AP?
According to Boko, AP should consider joining the UDC because opposition parties are currently under one umbrella. “If AP is an opposition in Botswana, they are enforced by the circumstances we find ourselves in, to join other opposition parties under the Umbrella (UDC). UDC is a conglomeration of opposition parties. Any serious opposition party must become part of the UDC. That one is not in doubt.”
The Leader of Opposition in parliament continued: “but as I said they (AP) have only just set up so they are still trying to find their bearing as well, so as soon as they have done, they will engage us as we are always open as UDC. For them to be admitted into the UDC there has to be motivation, we are ever ready to receive and embrace.”
In terms of whether UDC was ready to give out some constituencies to AP if they opted to join it, Boko said he was not ready to give out any information to that effect because the time had not yet come. However, he said when issues presented themselves they will examine them at that time, considering the prevailing circumstances at the time as well as the best interest of the organisation.
“These are what will determine how we react. So I cannot stand here now and say to you that this is what we will do. I don’t pre-judge. I am always open minded. I am always adaptable. When matters present themselves I look at the prevailing circumstances at the time and then make a call.”
The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator however said that since AP was just establishing itself, he could not fairly assess whether they are strong or not, and whether they will be a threat to them, should they decide to remain outside the UDC. “I’m waiting to see what they are made of,” he said.
The UDC leader opines that journalists are highly sensitive and says they must not think they are immune to criticism. “You journalists must subject yourselves to the most critical self examination because when we subject you to that rigorous examination you will then appreciate that we are not malicious. We don’t want any mediocrity in a journalist or anyone including politicians,” he pointed out.
He said this country will be better served by cutting edge journalists, “not people who masquerade to tell us their views and sentiments and have no regard for journalists who doesn’t respect the craft and ethics of journalists. If you a strong journalist who deals in facts, figures, ask pertinent questions, probes every leader you are my man.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.