COMRADES PARADE: Umbrella for Democratic Change leader, Duma Boko has only had kind words for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in recent weeks. The two parties are preparing to launch their marriage, and Dumelang Saleshando, the BCP leader may be rewarded with a green card to contest in Gaborone Bonninton North, as Boko focuses on presidential bid.
That the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are headed for talks is not in doubt. What could be overworking the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) think tanks is the confidence that is mounting among opposition ranks.
Opposition lobbyists on the ground want Duma Boko to purely focus on the Presidential bid in 2019 and not distract his bid with the side dish of a constituency battle – and this could be another add on to mending relations between the UDC and BCP.
Events on the ground dictate that Boko has settled the debate of who should or will be the President of the all-encompassing UDC, while on the other hand the BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando has accepted his fate – that should an agreement be penned, he will be Boko’s running mate, and one of the two Vice Presidents under the UDC.
Some BCP stalwarts who spoke to Weekend Post indicated that the BCP has always been a proponent of opposition cooperation and that there is no doubt that they will be part of the UDC in the run up to the 2019 elections. “This effectively means that we are going to also work with the UDC in all the bye-elections that will come before 2019.”
This publication gathered that the BCP central committee is expected to meet on Saturday to come up with a roadmap for the talks. “The central committee meeting will deliberate on how the party handles the talks internally. The party expects a lot of trade-offs, including on constituencies,” said a source.
Much has been said about the hierarchy of the UDC, should the BCP come through. Now that the ink has dried on who is head, lobbyists from both camps want Duma Boko to focus on the Presidential bid in the 2019 elections campaign. They are of the view that Boko could be central to a potential victory in 2019, if his offensive charm is unleashed across constituencies. The thinkers are also taking cognisance of the possibility of a direct election of the President, should the BDP sponsor such a law.
The opposition is also wary that a new legal dispensation in regard to election of the President of the Republic could give President Lt Gen Ian Khama another bite at the cherry if he so wishes. There are murmurs that some within the BDP are not confident enough about their prospect of success without Khama at the helm. But as of now, it is a non-issue; automatic succession is still the order of day.
“There are many reasons why we wish to see comrade Boko profiled for State House; if he makes way for Saleshando, it means that Gaborone Central remains with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and there will be not a lot of debate as to whether Saleshando should go back to Gaborone Central or not,” said one of the lobbyists.
While some had doubted Boko’s political stamina and appetite in the past, the BNF leader has already proved his mettle; he was at the forefront in the Goodhope-Mabule bye-election when Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II annihilated Presidential Affairs minister, Eric Molale.
And through his actions, Boko has demonstrated that he is ready to challenge for the highest office in the land, his followers have not even an iota of doubt. There is also no threat from the BNF front, it is evident that there is and there will be no vacancy for the position of president at BNF in a long shot.
Indications are that Saleshando could then be shifted to Gaborone Bonnington North, which will be one of the two or three constituencies awarded to the BCP in the southern part of the country. Informants have indicated that preliminary discussions point to the BCP being given the majority of the northern constituencies except for Francistown South and Maun West.
Political analyst, Dr Wazha Morapedi of the University of Botswana believes that should Boko give way to Saleshando, it will be a masterstroke. He said the gesture could also have the potential of warming up BCP members who doubted the genuineness of the cooperation. He also pointed out that the move could free Boko to focus on the bigger and broader issues of the campaign towards the 2019 general election.
Morapedi also told opposition parties to focus on UDC only, “any other thing will not yield any results. The BCP should just come under the UDC and they should all dissolve their parties,” he said. Morapedi pointed out that things like a pact will not work. “They must eject all those against cooperation and focus on the UDC and they will see the results.” He said it is not that important as to who will stand where, but rather the model.
According to UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, the BCP gesture not to contest Boswelatlou is welcome because it paves way for the BCP to come under the Umbrella model. He said the two parties are ready to engage each other, “and we would very want the BCP to come under the UDC,” he said.
On the issue of Boko paving way for Salesghando Mohwasa cautioned members to desist from making certain moves which may put the leadership under unnecessary pressure. He said they should allow the talks to commence and conclude and the leadership will make final announcements.
BCP spokesperson, Dithapelo Keorapetse said: “We are not standing in Boswelatlou ward in Lobatse and we will assist the UDC to retain the seat. The cooperation in Botswelatlou is a culmination of both parties’ attempts to forge relations that would usher in an amicable working relationship and is a big step for the envisaged opposition cooperation leading up to 2019 general elections. We are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding for bye-elections from now onwards and we hope not to oppose each other in 2019.
The BCP believes that Batswana and opposition parties enemy is one, BDP, therefore we ought to do as much as we can to retain seats held by opposition and wrestle those in the BDP in future bye-elections. BDP has become corrupt and bereft of ideas and has to go and it is only through opposition cooperation that we can achieve that.
So failure to cooperate is not an option, we have to find a way to emancipate Batswana who clearly want change now. On how we are going to cooperate in terms of the model, it will be discussed by the two parties looking at would work. We remain optimistic however that all will go well.”
For the first time in history the BDP has had its popular vote slip to below 50 percent of the total votes. The opposition is confident of unseating the BDP at the next election and the ruling party has been forced to introspect and re-engineer some of its own internal processes such as primary elections.
Duma Boko easily won the Gaborone Bonninton North constituency against BDP’s Robert Masitara and BCP’s Annah Motlhagodi. Motlhagodi is expected to lean on the side of her president should the constituency become a bait in the unity talks.
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.