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Ndaba tells Boko off at Nasha’s meeting

Alliance for Progressives (AP) has expressed misgivings about joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) under the leadership of Duma Boko, instead preferring to work with Dumelang Saleshando’s Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Chronicles of the all opposition leaders meeting called by the chairperson of the opposition forum, Dr Margret Nasha a fortnight ago, document how thorny the path to opposition unity would be in the build up to 2024 general elections.

The meeting was called after negotiators pressed Nasha to engage with the Presidents because “of the worrying fact that there seems to be no progress in the talks.”

Ndaba Gaolathe, the leader of AP, which is currently supporting BCP candidate in the Bophirima Ward bye-elections is said to have taken Boko head on, over some issues which he said have been recurring even at a time when they were still part of the Umbrella.

The governance issues, which includes failure to hold meetings by the UDC NEC as alleged by the BCP in recent days was among things raised by Gaolathe according to those who attended the meeting.

For AP to join UDC without hesitation, it is said Ndaba wants Boko to assure them that there will be no hiccups and there will be consultations and all parties will be treated equally. For some time, leading to the current squabbles in Bophirima, BCP has been raising the same.

Those privy to the details of the meeting, say, the AP leader, had misgivings on some remarks made by the UDC President at a time when negotiations are still ongoing. At the top of his concerns, AP leader is said to have questioned Boko’s remarks, in which he said all the negotiating parties should be ready for “UDC or Nothing.”

Ndaba is of the view that those remarks are intimidating, and each party should be free to present their own position of model rather than be imposed to subscribe to a certain model.

For now, this publication understands that, AP is in favour of a pact model. On the other hand, Boko at the meeting said the pact model would mean, after elections, the party would be free to negotiate with whoever in case there is a tie.

“When UDC is tied with BDP for example, and we need AP seats they can go either way as they can cooperate with anyone and that would have compromised opposition unity talk,” Boko allegedly said.

Again, another qualm that Ndaba has with joining the Umbrella are reports that even if they join, the two positions of President and VP will not be touched.  This according to Gaolathe is not good for governance and should be corrected and all the parties should be equally represented in the UDC NEC senior positions. It was, however, corrected and resolved that UDC will avail all position to new entrants in the coalition.

Other meeting attendees were Dumelang Saleshando (BCP), Caroline Lesang (BPF) and Philip Bulawa representing Motlatsi Molapisi of Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).

It is at the meeting that AP and BPF presented their position papers, with UDC expected to meet sometime in April and consolidate their stand before submitting to the forum. Nasha, after the meeting, gave the negotiators postmortem of the meeting as to how everything transpired.

A letter inviting the Presidents blamed UDC for dragging its feet in facilitating the talks that were anticipated to conclude last year. “The committee has had to postpone its discussions on proposed cooperation frameworks for the 2024 general elections numerous times, largely because the UDC is yet to come up with an agreed position paper.
This has caused an air of despondency among cooperating partners, hence the need for your timely intervention.”
UDC is in talks with both AP and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) for by-elections and 2024 general elections cooperation.

However, the current UDC constituent members, BCP, BNF and BPP are favouring the current umbrella set-ups. This is actually a compromise, especially from BCP, which prefers a merger, sources say.

However, with AP backing BCP in Bophirima, some say they have rendered the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) redundant.

Commenting on the matter, UDC Spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said indeed the AP stance undermined the MoU.
“Our expectation is that AP would support the UDC candidate because we both have an obligation to support each other in the bye elections in terms of the bye elections MoU that we have entered into.

Anything to the contrary would be undermining the agreement,” he said, before adding, “It is up to the UDC NEC to make a determination in the wake of this breach.”

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