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Khama, Dums meet over UDC

Former President: Lt Gen Ian Khama

The Patron of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), Lt Gen Ian Khama who is also the Godfather of the movement recently met with the leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando in a rare meeting to discuss a wide range of issues including the future of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Saleshando who warmed up to Khama later than his counterpart and UDC president, Duma Boko is currently embroiled in public exchanges with the latter over the direction of the coalition movement insisting that things are not good as they seem or Boko says, within the movement.

The meeting with Khama was requested by Saleshando who insiders say discussed a series of issues about the complexities currently facing the UDC – once dubbed the people’s project, opposition parties and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “Saleshando had gone to update and give Khama his side of the story so that he does not hear anything through the grapevine and the two discussed a lot of political issues,” revealed a close source.

In a brief interview, Saleshando could not confirm or deny the meeting, redirecting enquiries to Khama. “You mention Khama, I think you better ask him to confirm,” was only what he could say.

Although the two have tussled for a long time during Khama’s rein, Khama respects Saleshando as a political animal but is more inclined to Boko who first warmed up to him when Saleshando was still skeptical of whether he was red, lime or yellow. In fact, Khama once recruited Saleshando to BDP when Saleshando was still the Member of Parliament for Gaborone central, a constituency that Khama resided in.

Asked about the meeting, the BPF spokesperson, Lawrence Ookeditse could not confirm or deny the meeting, choosing rather to say “the BPF Patron, Khama has a cordial relationship with all the opposition parties leaders and meets them every now and then or when necessary.”

Insiders however say, between Saleshando and Boko, Khama is more inclined to Boko who has at some point sought and vowed to represent him “against the ruling party mercenaries,” despite having likened him to a demon during his (Khama) rein.

It is not known how the Botswana National Front (BNF), has taken the meeting, but some insiders attribute the ongoing bickering between the BCP and the BNF to that meeting, “there is no way Boko would not know about what was discussed at that meeting.

What needs to be understood is that the BCP is very territorial in nature as compared to the BNF whose president is quite liberal- a trait that has earned him respect in some quarters  as well as sparked his frequent clashes with BNF die-hearts concerned that he may sell the party’s soul.

So the BPF as a new comer will obviously gravitates towards one who easily gives ground or yield because they also want a serious stake in this. It’s now power politics, forget the public gymnastics,” revealed a bystander very close to action.

Since formation the BPF has demonstrated signs of mercurial growth owing to the Khama-magic, and this has given it a status of a giant knocking on the coalition door. Even before it can be allowed in, those inside the house are already pushing and shoving for its attention.

Currently the BCP seems isolated with the BNF flirting with the less influential Botswana People’s Party (BPP). During a quarrel recently, the BPP released a statement castigating the BCP for mentioning it in its (BCP) little fight with the BNF over a press conference that the BCP wanted postponed on the grounds that they were not aware of what the agenda was as a partner.

Boko recently revealed in the coalition decisions are taken by way of majority, a move that Saleshando says does not really promote and protect synergy. It would appear that these are some of the issues that Saleshando discussed with Khama.

Although insinuations are being made by some that the BCP may be heading out or facing expulsion, claims refuted by Saleshando, Ookeditse said as the BPF they do not a have role in the matters currently besieging the UDC.

“Of course we are aware of the challenges faced by our comrades from the UDC, but we would rather communicate our views to the UDC than outsiders. What we can say for the record is that the BPF supports any action geared towards the promotion of opposition unity and attainment of state power which is our main objective, and in so far as we are concerned, all partners are important to this objective as we need the numbers,” he said.

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