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UDC/BCP Electoral Pact would have worked

It is regrettable, but not fatal that the newly created political formation, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) excludes the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). The results of Mokoboxane and Tlokweng, where the Botswana National Front (BNF) narrowly lost to the ruling party, were the first to demonstrate that the opposition parties need each other. It appears that the BNF lost because of lack of effective BCP support.

 

I believe that the BCP had its own reasons for not actively supporting the BNF, but I do not want to go into that, suffice it to point out that in the forthcoming bye elections in Monarch West, both the BCP and the UDC partner, the BPP will find themselves on a collision course, much to the delight of the BDP, who will once again snatch defeat from the jaws of opposition victory.

 

The problem of the opposition parties always splitting their own votes is now legendary. In 2009 the opposition split votes in nine constituencies, in 2004 it was 12 constituencies, and in 1999 it was six constituencies.

 

Only God knows how many constituencies will lost due to split in opposition vote in 2014. The loss of two wards by the BNF to the ruling BDP with such small margins shows that the go it alone strategy will not work in the current context of first past the post electoral system.  But a BCP victory in Monarch West will only give rise to a false sense of optimism that the go it alone strategy is a viable option.


I want to believe that there is still time for the opposition to get their act together before the next election. There is an urgent need to get out of this self-destructive sibling rivalry where BCP and BNF still see one another as the most immediate tactical obstacle to overcome as a means to a more long term strategic objective of defeating the BDP. This emanates from a well-known ancient grudge between two siblings (in fair Palapye where we lay our scene) who,  both alike in   pride (or egos),  just want to continue with their parents rage, one whom is now deceased (my sincere apologies to William Shakespeare).

 

One can feel the emerging antipathy between the newly formed UDC and the BCP.  But the BCP and BNF (now under the UDC) need each other more than they want to admit publicly.  Just look at their policies and manifestoes. When I was roped into the task force merging the four opposition party polices last year, I was surprised about the little differences amongst them, and the ease with which differences were quickly overcome.

 

Even the new kid on the block, the BMD, sometimes came up with very radical proposals, much to the relief of all of us.  It is interesting to note however, that this success story was never publicly acknowledged, instead focus was put on the differences, that is, the problems surrounding seat allocations. But it appears that it is the old habit of the opposition parties to always focus on areas of disagreement rather than areas of agreement and in the process miss the bigger picture:  the attainment of state power.


But now that there is the UDC (of the BNF, the BMD and the BPP) a registered political party, rather than a coalition of parties, how can the TWO main opposition parties, namely, the UDC led by BNF and the BCP together move forward and overcome the well-known problem of opposition vote splitting in all the coming bye elections, and on to the 2014 general elections?  

 

My own strong feeling is that the UDC and the BCP must form an electoral pact. The much talked about Memorandum of Understanding of Bye Elections signed by BCP, BNF and BMD can be revived and revised in light of changed political conditions. I know for a fact that there will be no need to formulate a Pact Manifesto, because it already exists.  

 

I know because I was party to its drafting.  But I am not sure who should make the first move. May be the conveners of the talks can break the deadlock by inviting Boko, Motswaledi and Saleshando to some wine and cheese get together, and ask Rev Dick Bayford to grace the occasion.  To someone like Boko, an electoral pact with BCP might be a bitter pill to swallow as it would appear to vindicate the position of the Executive Committee that he fired. 

 

But political circumstances have changed and a wise man can adapt to the new conditions. The main ingredients of these changed political circumstances include the BNF narrow loss in the last two bye elections, the formation of the UDC and the return home (not defection for God’s sake) of Botsalo Ntuane, and Kabo Morwaeng (and only God knows who is next) formerly very prominent personas in the BMD fold.


Looking at the trends in the popular vote, the opposition vote has always been very high, though fragmented. In  the 2004 general elections, the ruling BDP led the popular vote by about half a percent  at 50.63 percent, and in the last 2009 elections (with the Khama magic)  the lead rose to 53.26  percent,  up by about two and half  percentage points. 

 

My position has always been that the problem is the electoral system of first past the post, and that it can and must be delegitimized. In a journal article in 2006 I fiercely  repudiated (and with the benefit of hindsight, not successfully)  a thesis propounded by American Professors,  Dandolf and Holm in their 1999 journal article entitled Democracy Without Credible Opposition – The case of Botswana,  on the prospects of  what they referred to as ‘pre-election coalition’  in Botswana.

 

Their  argument is that  Botswana’s opposition parties have never committed themselves to a strategy of coalition building for the purpose of winning elections  (italics added),  that the de facto  one- party system  that prevails in  Botswana  is due mainly to the opposition parties inability  to form a pre-election coalition, and that the opposition parties squander their chances  by fighting amongst themselves. Whilst I still remain an unreconstructed believer in proportional representation (PR) I now appreciate their argument (better late than never). 

 

And come to think of it, BDP   just has to lose elections once, and it will be out of business forever,  as  has happened with many other ruling parties  that have overstayed in government, such as UNIP in Zambia, nationalist Party in South Africa or Communist Party of the Soviet Union days.  Can you imagine the BDP in the opposition benches?


It must be noted however, that pre-elections coalition/pact is not the same as merger, and is not necessarily the easy option out.  It  is not a mechanical operation and party rank and file tend to be sentimentally attached to their parties,  so much that some would not vote a  coalition/pact candidate out of resentment.  But if you were to balance pre-elections coalition/pact with the split opposition vote, I believe that an elections   coalition/pact will be the lesser of the two evils.  In 2004, the BNF was able to pull back from the brink because of its pre-election pact with BAM and BPP. But those pre-election coalitions/pact negotiations were difficult, laborious, painstaking and tedious. I know because I was there.

 

The 2009 elections results also show that BAM/BCP pre-election coalition/pact worked for BCP, and I want to believe that those talks were also difficult, laborious, painstaking and tedious. Surely if the BCP and the BNF can go into pre-election coalition/pact with smaller parties, and it works, they can go into pre-election coalition with one another, and it would also work, if only it was not because of this ancient grudge! What I find attractive about the pre-election coalition/pact is that the parties in the coalition/pact keep their identities.

 

The  Oasis Motel negotiations collapsed precisely because people had set themselves  unrealistic deadlines, little realizing that there were going to be many obstacles to be overcome, including botete ja bangwe, which,  even if unreasonable, had to be nursed. There is still time before the next general elections and I will say to UDC and BCP back to the drawing board. And who knows, the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission might just come in handy.
 

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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