Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members are rubbing hands in glee as the conflict within the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is becoming internecine — a mutually destructive fight — as the contracting parties are turning on each other ahead of their congress in two weeks. Last weekend all the contracting partners held their leadership forums at various places to prepare for the congress s and highly placed sources within the parties are labelling the outcomes of the forums as if they were held at the Tower of Babel as the jockeying for positions and constituencies takes another twist. A member of Botswana National Front (BNF) National Executive Committee has confided that he is sceptical anything positive will come out of the February UDC congress as the scheming and plotting is becoming dirtier and messier by each passing day. “There is talk of separating the wheat from the chaff within the UDC and some are suggesting that Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) should not be treated as equals with BNF and Botswana Congress Party (BCP),” a source alleged. BNF and BCP are said to be suggesting that a membership audit must be conducted on all the contracting parties as they believe that parties are never equal in size and influence. Their argument is that there is no such equiform or equi-distribution in real life. Some within the BNF and its offspring BCP are also pushing for the amendment of the new constitution which will be adopted at the congress to have one Vice President instead of the two as it is now, causing confusing within the alliance. “Delegates will push for Dumelang Saleshando to be the running mate for Duma Boko while Pilane takes the new created position of Secretary General,” said the source.
Another issue that is likely to strain the relationship between the contracting partners is the constituency and ward allocation. BCP delegates who attended the Saturday meeting in Palapye are said to have also proposed for the re-allocation of constituencies especially those held by BMD as they believe the party does not have numbers. Although BMD has insisted that constituency allocation is water under the bridge, BNF is said to be sponsoring a motion for the congress to reconsider the allocation of constituencies and wards. “The constituencies were allocated when BMD was still intact but now the circumstances have changed and we cannot ignore that,” a BNF member confided. BNF and BCP are said to be advocating for BMD to surrender some of the constituencies as they don’t have numbers. Some of the constituencies that BNF and BCP are looking at include Gaborone constituencies of Bonnington South and North, Central and Mogoditshane, Moshupa and Francistown South. The embattled BMD, on the other hand, is lying in waiting for the BNF and BCP. At their leadership forum in Ramotswa over the weekend, the Advocate Sidney Pilane led orange party came up with what will go in political history as the ‘Kgolagano Brigade resolutions’. The orange movement is playing cards close to their chest, ready to pounce should other contracting partners try to push them into a corner. “We are aware that these guys want to push us to go to court and challenge the legality of the congress and attendance of BCP but they are in for a shock,” revealed a BMD leader who preferred to remain anonymous.
BMD is said to be ready to accept Saleshando as Boko’s running mate and have Pilane as the Secretary General of UDC. Sources within the BDP offspring which recently gave birth to Alliance for Progressives (AP) are putting their faith on the UDC constitution which is in effect as per the inaugural Serowe congress. Should there be a push; sources within the party have revealed that they will block the BCP from attending the congress as they are not members of UDC as per the effective constitution. “It is only at the congress that we will discuss the new constitution and adopt it as per the law as such BCP as things stand, is not a member of UDC,” revealed the source close to the BMD inner circle. BMD spokesperson Winfred Rasina recently told The Patriot on Sunday that as far as they are concerned the issue of constituency allocation has been closed. “The only issue that we are left with is ward allocation and this one is upon the individual constituencies to discuss among themselves,” he said. He repeated the same on Friday. He said the issue of constituency allocation has long being dealt by the stream which was assigned to look at it and adopted by the UDC NEC. “Remember that according to the UDC constitution, NEC is the highest decision making body not Congress and the issue has been adopted just like that of the party colours, logo and positions,” he explained.
Therefore all the 57 constituencies do not have to be re-allocated, he said. According to Rasina, as BMD they have started campaigning for 2019 general elections in constituencies they have been allocated and believe that other alliance partners are doing likewise. He said as far as they are concerned congress will discuss the constitution in its entirety. UDC Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa declined to respond to the numerous allegations about the goings-on in the alliance. He, however, confirmed that upcoming congress will discuss constituency and ward allocations. He said the UDC NEC is meeting on Thursday (15th February) to put together a draft programme for consideration by contradicting parties before a final document is produced.