When the Leader of Opposition Duma Boko took the podium to respond to the State of the Nation Address it was clear that the polarization within the opposition has taken a knock on him as he did not show the exuberance which characterised his previous speeches. In his previous response to the SONA the charismatic and militant Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader was confident and spoke with authority with his voice and words vibrating in the parliamentary hall but on Wednesday he was the shadow of himself and seemed detached from his speech. Boko, who is very eloquent and sometimes uses bombastic words, this time avoided talking about regime change in 2019. To show that the formation of Alliance for Progressives whose leaders has stated that they won’t join UDC for now Boko spent the last part of his speech appealing to them to consider their move. “To all the comrades on my side of the aisle I can do no better than to repeat what I have said before about the Umbrella for Democratic Change. I have asserted to all of you that the Umbrella for Democratic Change will not emerge from some miraculous act of immaculate conception,” said Boko, adding that it must result from energetic debate, popular decision, collective sacrifice and constitutional creativity. Though he didn’t elaborate more, it was clear Boko was speaking to members of Alliance for Progressives who have bolted out of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), citing unfair verdict by UDC over the fateful Bobonong elective congress.
After the verdict members of a faction led by Ndaba Gaolathe didn’t wait for too long – they converged at Ave Marea Pastoral Centre the next day to announce formation a new political party. Boko warned his fellow opposition MPs must not allow themselves to be diminished by failing to rise beyond the plane of ordinary existence. Boko reminded the AP MPs who are yet to resign from UDC that they belong and are stronger together. “We must fiercely resist whatever springs and urges impel us to exist and operate as isolated and insulated fragments drifting away from each other,” appealed Boko. His statement came as some within UDC have proposed that the party should go to 2019 elections alone as they feel that UDC is soiled by the presence of Sidney Pilane. “I implore you comrades, on that solemn note of piety, to reach out and find each other and maintain unity,” appealed Boko. Interestingly after he finished his speech all MPs from the opposition gave him a standing ovation while his former ally Ndaba Gaolathe sat down and only shook his hand as they sit next to each other.
Will AP MPs resign from UDC?
After the party was launched at Ba Isago University on October 28, 2017 there were expectations that the AP MPs will be defect from UDC to their new political home before the State of the Nation Address (SONA). This has not taken place. The Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe said she has not received any communication regarding the new party in Parliament. Sources within AP have revealed that the MPs will defect after the arrival of AP Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi and MP for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaingwa who are currently in Germany on parliamentary business. “We don’t want the resignation and defection to be done in a piece meal way but rather with pomp and fanfare,” revealed one AP MP. When BMD was formed in 2010 there was euphoria as MPs and councilors resigned from the ruling party which created fear that government would collapse. The party took over some councilors notably the two cities of Gaborone and Francistown, paralysing the BDP. This was expected with the formation of AP or at least some shake-ups across councils. The AP’s Secretary General Dr Phenyo Butale didn’t respond to questions sent to him through WhatsApp though it indicated that he has seen them.