The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are expected to announce their merger before the end of January, source close to the talks have revealed. The merger will pave way for UDC+, which will take on the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), in the 2019 general elections. The talks started in 2015 after the opposition realised that they needed united front to wrestle power from the BDP as UDC performed well in 2014 general elections. The official launch of the merger is expected to be coincided with the launch of UDC candidate for Tlokweng constituency Kenneth Masego Segokgo, thus boosting his campaign. One of the highlights of the talks is the appointment of BCP President Dumelang Saleshando as the secretary general, the second most powerful position after the president in the UDC+ constitution. One of the issues that delayed the talks was the allocation of positions for the leadership and this is said to have been completed with Ndaba Gaolathe elevated to vice presidency.
The position of vice president was not in the UDC constitution as secretary general was the running mate for the president as it happened in the 2014 elections when Gaolathe was Duma Boko’s running mate. According to sources close to the talks, Saleshando has been tasked with ensuring that the party comes up with sound policies and campaign strategy ahead of the 2019 general elections. He is expected to work hand in hand with secretary generals from contracting parties to come up with sound policies and campaign strategy for the 2019 elections. Political analyst Ndulamo Morima said it was fitting for Saleshando to be given the position of chief scribe of the alliance. “The issue of having two vice presidents was going to be a residue for conflict and I think they did well by giving the position while appointing Gaolathe vice president,” he said.
Saleshando has previously been credited with branding the BCP when he was its publicity secretary. It was after the BCP had performed poorly in their maiden 1999 elections where they retained only one MP from 11 and was on the brink of collapse. He steadily guided the party to the 2004 elections becoming its only MP and later voted party president where the number of MPs rose in 2009 to four. The real test for Saleshando and his team will be the Tlokweng by-elections where they are expected to lead the campaign. “As the secretary general of UDC+ he is expected to not only the campaign but come up with strategies that can help the party retain the constituency,” said the source. The campaign for Tlokweng is expected to be intense and expensive, even exceeding the level of the Goodhope/Mabule one. UDC Publicity Secretary Moeti said they will soon announce the official completion of the talks. “But surely it will be before or on the 23rd of January,” said Mohwasa, who was non-committal when asked to confirm if Saleshando will be the new UDC+ Secretary General choosing to say that it will be announced very soon.