UDC in danger of split

Nicholas Mokwena
Tuesday, 27 March 2018
Duma Boko Duma Boko

Trouble for Umbrella for Democratic Change deepens as the leadership continues to fail to meet and evaluate the congress that was held in Gaborone last month.

The controversial issue which the congress wanted to be revisited is the allocation of constituencies, especially those allocated to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). At the centre of this failure President Advocate Duma Boko has been fingered for failing to convene the meeting. 

Advocate Boko of late has been under fire for allegedly defying a resolution to kick out BMD from the UDC. Tensions were high at the February 24th Congress as lobbying for expulsion of BMD was done. Some members of the UDC especially from Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) have argued that since the split of the BMD last year what is left is an empty shell.  Expectation from UDC members was that the leadership would move swiftly to evaluate the congress and report back before contracting partners go for their primary elections. At the congress the members had said that in the event BMD is not kicked out it has to surrender some of its constituencies, at least ten (10) from its original 14. 

The main beneficiary from the exercise could be BCP, which currently some of its leadership including the President Dumelang Saleshando, have been left without constituencies. BMD gained most of its constituencies through incumbency a model that the BCP has since the start of the negotiations expressed reservations with. The BCP had wanted that in any constituency where there are capable people the UDC should allow for primary elections by members of all the contracting partners.

It is alleged that the UDC which has not enjoyed any smooth sailing since the incoming of BCP is sitting on a ticking time bomb before it splits. According to sources should the BCP president not have a constituency the party might reconsider its decision of joining the Umbrella when it meets at its conference in July this year. The friction between BCP and BMD is likely to affect the UDC performance at Ralekgetho bye-election tomorrow (Saturday) as some of the BMD members are not active in the campaign. Within BNF things are also not all well for Advocate Boko as his central committee is after his head. His relation with his committee is said to have hit its lowest ebb.  A secret position paper is being circulated among BNF members around the country. The intention of the paper is to restore the dignity of the BNF and take it back to the masses. BCP and BMD are expected to conduct their primary elections in May this year. 

BCP Information and Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse told Botswana Guardian after the party’s Leadership Forum held in Palapye that it has been resolved that by end of May primaries should have been conducted.“It was agreed that by end of May all the 17 constituencies that we are managing for Umbrella for Democratic Change should have held primaries. The same would apply to the wards that we would be allocated as some have to be agreed at the UDC congress later in the year,” Keorapetse revealed.

BMD Spokesperson Rasina Rasina said they have already issued a writ for primary elections in all their 14 constituencies. And so yes, preparations for the BMD primaries are at an advanced stage, he explained. Rasina revealed that the Secretary General and the National Organising Secretary including the mobilisation team continue to traverse the country, particularly within the 14 constituencies training their members who will be facilitating and coordinating the primary elections. “I can assure you that we are more than ready for the primaries and we shall ensure that they go as smoothly as possible in our interest and in the interest of the UDC.  We shall have our primary elections on the 5th of May 2018 in all our 14 constituencies. 

 “The primaries shall be to identify and finalise as per internal democratic process both parliamentary candidates and council candidates in wards that we are incumbent on and wards that have been allocated to us by our partners within the UDC as per the principle of 60/40 on wards allocation per constituency,” he said.

 Rasina revealed that BMD have not received any communication nor had any interaction with any party within the UDC on possibilities or requests for trade-offs and or inside trading. “We are thus proceeding on the notion that no one has had any interest in such a dialogue with us. 

“We are also proceeding with full knowledge that we might also have wanted and or thought of negotiating some constituencies being assigned to some of our UDC partners but since we did not make such request, we have resolved to proceed with our 14 assigned constituencies.”

UDC Head of Communications Moeti Mohwasa acknowledged that the UDC leadership has not met to do the evaluations. He explained this is due to some commitments on the part of the leadership. Mohwasa stated that even though there are dissenting voices within the UDC about BMD, people and the media are blowing things out of proportion. 

He expressed confidence that everything would be sorted out and UDC will move forward and united. Regarding the BNF, Mohwasa indicated that they are meeting as the central committee this coming Sunday. He said at the meeting various issues including primary elections would be discussed including the setting of dates.

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