THE OBSERVER: UDC “as a government in waiting” must be realistic

SHARE   |   Monday, 12 October 2015   |   By Simon Gabathuse
UDC leadership UDC leadership

Several questions remain unanswered by the Umbrella for Democratic Change. The opposition must get serious and tell us what it is exactly that they intend to do with the government once they are voted into power. What happens after the UDC gets voted into power and one of the parties decides to quit the UDC? We then either go for fresh elections or return power to the Botswana Democratic Party immediately.

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The only thing that has been made clear is that the Botswana National Front will take over presidency of the country with the Botswana Movement for Democracy taking over the Vice Presidency of the country. And this is where the planning has ended. The planning has not been extended to; and then what does the UDC do with the government after attaining it?  In my first installment of this column I seek to open these wounds, painful as they are they have to be opened.
Why cannot these parties simply disband and form one party. It becomes difficult to observe these parties lacking trust and habouring suspicious characters against one another yet expecting the potential voter to trust them as a collective. For as long as parties continue to retain their individuality in colours, names and policies then membership recruitment shall continue to be difficult. Joining the UDC shall then mean joining a particular party and that choice alone poses suspicion against other parties. Played down as the UDC wants to do to, this matter shall continue to marvel growth in that little corner and gain strength and ultimately come out that corner to haunt the same institution. 
Yes, a section of the potential voter has gone madly excited about the prospect of changing government. The opposition is even carelessly throwing statements around that the country might not have to wait for the year 2019 to change government. Whatever that means, it sounds too excited. The issue by now should not only be about the rhetoric of changing government, the issue by now should be a clear blue print of what the UDC intends to do with the government. Whatever intentions about the government should be based on the will of the party, at the moment there are many wills from the UDC as they emanate from the BNF, BMD, BPP and possibly Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU).

This is where a blue print, a contract with the voter comes in, at the moment there are at the most three contracts being policies of the BNF, BMD and the BPP. Some argue that the UDC manifesto also serves as a contract hence pushing contracts to four; now that is very confusing. This is a huge risk for the opposition and indeed a huge risk for the voter to try ignoring this fundamental question. The fear that the opposition might rule this country for only one term is founded on this fundamental question.  If the opposition is to attain state power without a clear blue print, the first thing that the opposition will grapple with will be to try and please everyone in the immediate effect and at the same time trying to build the future of the country.

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That will prove very stressful and burden to the UDC leaders. The UDC will also at the same time have to openly handle its factional battles. It is simple at the moment to pretend that UDC does not have factional problems; it is so because the rhetoric and excitement of change of government has blinded the follower. Once in power, if at all that is a possibility, the dark forces will ultimately come out of the hiding places to demand a piece of the cake. Those funding the UDC now will want to be a part of the state just like those funding the BDP are a part of the daily affairs of the state. All these combined have the ripple effects of daunting the goodwill that the UDC has managed to build and strengthen over the past few years.

  Once that goodwill is all gone, as is highly likely, Batswana being a nation that forgets easily will forget about all the complaints they had against the ruling BDP and will most probably only remember the good that was done by the BDP. Naturally in that state of mind the nation will feel that it was much easier under the BDP and hence much better to return the BDP into power and that will be the end of the UDC.  Essentially this blue print, the contract with the voter, is not only essential to safe guide the interest of the voter but also essential, for the survival of the UDC beyond 2019.
There are several issues on the table that the UDC should be answering through this blue print, such as that of a change of the constitution to reduce powers of the presidency. The UDC should be telling this nation if it will reduce the powers of the president. Shouting at the top of their voice that the president has too much powers vested in his office is another thing. Committing that those powers will be reduced and taken to parliament as a responsibility is another thing. The UDC must come out clear that they will be comfortable running the country with a president with limited powers. It is unheard of in Africa and obviously the nation awaits such a miracle.
The UDC must also be careful about making unrealistic promises to the workers, if at all there are any promises that have been made to the workers. This blue print will also address this loud problem.  Naturally so, the workers will always be with those that they feel are not oppressing them. This time around the UDC is not in power and hence cannot oppress the workers, whatever being oppressed means. When the UDC takes over the running of the country, if at all that will be possible, the workers will not only demand more salary increment but will also demand more holidays. They will also demand scrapping of a huge part of the civil servants off being essential workers. One might wonder the chaos that will come with that. 
The UDC has hinted that more than once that there is no law that says people need a permit to demonstrate. Now that will also be a problem, one can only look next door in South Africa where anyone and any grouping can decide to block roads with stones, burning tyres and tree branches whenever they feel aggrieved. Some even go to the extent of using such demonstrations as a form of entertainment as often depicted by the smiles on their faces being parallel from the message they are trying to portray through demonstration songs and placards. We cannot deny the vandalism, looting and theft that often accompany these demonstrations; we must be ready then as a country to accommodate them. If we don’t want these negatives then the UDC must stop hinting that people do not need permits to demonstrate as that could come back to haunt this country.
At the moment it is easier for the UDC to agree to any demands being made by BOFEPUSU because they want to be friends with BOFEPUSU. Ba lopela BOFEPUSU! It has never been possible for any ruling party to agree to whatever is being demanded by the workers, even just next door where COSATU is in a tripartite alliance with the SACP and ANC, it has never been possible to agree on everything hence strikes are the order of the day in South Africa. But because there is a clear blue print, the South African tripartite have survived the test of time. The UDC might want to learn from that.



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