There is growing tension and anxiety within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) circles as it prepares to welcome Botswana Congress Party (BCP) into its ranks, with bloated egos and insecurity of some having contributed to the last minute cancellation of a press conference that was to announce the pact.
Some see this as power play games, particularly as UDC has to realign its leadership to include BCP leaders. Others see this as a reaction to the overzealousness of the BCP operatives who are allegedly asking for more than other parties are prepared to give away.
Among thorny areas is an alleged attempt by the BCP to force partners to agree to give away the Gaborone South to BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando to contest in the 2019 General Elections. This comes after UDC captured his previous constituency in the 2014 General Elections, which means that the winning party will be given the first opportunity to field a candidate. With Saleshando allegedly set to be appointed UDC+ Secretary General, the party will be under pressure to agree on a constituency to contest. Gaborone South though appears the only possible area in the greater Gaborone where he could be fielded. Otherwise he might have to be considered for the Selebi-Phikwe or Maun constituencies.
After their weekend sterling performance BCP Presidential Spokesperson Martin Dingake announced on social media on Sunday that the UDC President Duma Boko and BCP President Dumelang Saleshando will announce the historic coalition at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng on the 23rd January 2017. “15hrs00min, tomorrow it is. Oasis Motel. The beginning of history,” wrote Dingake on his Facebook page. The inner wrangling within the coalition played out on Monday when BCP Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse announced that the announcement of the coalition has been postponed to next week Monday while the MP for Mogoditshane Sedirwa Kgoroba dismissing the purported meeting. “There is nothing like a UDC+ press conference today or this week. I, as a UDC member of parliament, have not been informed and the UDC vice president Gaolathe is not aware of such a press conference,” announced Kgoroba to the shock of some UDC cadres. The outspoken Mogoditshane MP gave a glimpse of what is going inside when he revealed in his post that there are some within the coalition who want to own the revolution.
“The cartel has got its own ambitions and will tear apart anything that stands on their way. I will not be intimidated by a mere group masquerading as genuine UDC sympathisers when in actual fact they are pushing a divisive factionalist agenda,” hit out Kgoroba. Sources close to the UDC have revealed that all is not well within the talks as some within the pact feel that they have been pushed aside with key decisions taken without consulting proper structures of the contracting parties. Among things that some within UDC are not happy with is the name UDC+, which they say was adopted without proper consultation.
“We have not been consulted on that issue. We just saw it in the media. The proper procedure is to allow all contracting parties to go and consult their executives about the decision of the talks before anything can be announced,” said a source. In his statement regarding the postponement Keorapetse said that it will be held tomorrow (Monday) as most the leaders were still coming from the by-elections campaigns.
“He is misleading people because no decision has been taken as us at BMD will meet on the 4th of February to be briefed on the progress of the talks and nothing can be announced before parties have met,” said a highly placed source at BMD. Another member of the contracting parties raised a concern that the announcement was made by BCP officials instead of UDC as the main party. “Look Mohwasa is our publicity secretary and is the one charged with making official statements not BCP officials,” said a furious UDC MP who didn’t want to be named. One member of the UDC leadership who didn’t want to be named quashed Kgoroba’s sentiments that they were not consulted, saying there is no structure for MPs within the party. UDC publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa said that the press briefing was postponed as they have to iron out some issues which were left behind. On when they will make the announcement, Mohwasa said he was constrained to comment as they don’t discuss their issues with the media but was quick to add that consultation was done prior to postponing the recent press briefing.