The charismatic Umbrella for Democratic Change UDC) President Duma Boko had a rude awakening on wee hours of Thursday as his political career was taking a nosedive.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had almost won all the council wards giving Annah Mokgethi was taking an edge to snatch Gaborone Bonnington North.
By 5PM it was becoming clear that Boko’s political career was now slipping through his fingers as Mokgethi opened a gap of 1000. Shock was written all over the face of his poling agents as they could not believe what they were witnessing at Sir Seretse Khama JSS. The UDC strategy was falling flat with a resounding thud as the BDP was sweeping the stakes.
At the end Mokgethi who is also a lawyer by profession ensured that Boko doesn’t serve another five years as Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North as she decimated him by 6 933 votes against 4 495. Kaelo Molefhe of AP got 1047 while Onkemetse Lerubisi of Real Alternatives only got 56 votes.
The combined votes of the opposition could not even match that of the BDP.
The loss by Boko might affect his political career as some within UDC are looking at events as they unfold and might ask him to step down and let Dumelang Saleshando lead the movement.
They have been silent voices within the UDC that accused Boko of being remote and inaccessible to the masses and taking decisions alone. This might give them some political weapons to ensure that he loses even the BNF presidency at next year’s elective congress.
Boko who comes from a humble background is also accused of failing to manage his personal issues especially the run ins with Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) over tax issues.
As the face of UDC, Boko spent most of the time canvassing votes for the coalition and launching candidates while his rivals were on the ground campaigning.
He is now facing reckoning, his party has performed terribly worse in the southern part even losing all Gaborone constituencies.
The Mahalapye born politician had everything in control until the 16th of October 2019 during the presidential debates when he left a bitter taste on conservative Batswana due to the use of certain Tswana words.
The party never recovered from the bashing that he is pompous and doesn’t respect other people. The incredible rise of Boko has been phenomenal turning around the image of opposition parties in Botswana whose members sometimes dress like ragamuffins.
Many doubted him in 2011 when he managed to lead the opposition coalition which faced many challenges but he prevailed ensuring that it survives the then political storms. In the 2014 elections Boko mounted a combative campaign against the BDP and for the first time marched the ruling party pound for pound.
He criss-crossed the length and breadth of Botswana, addressing election rallies, participating in road shows and holding meetings with workers unions members. He delivered seventeen constituencies which was an historic achievement in Botswana politics and went on to become leader of the opposition in parliament after winning Bonnington North constituency.
After the 2014 general elections where BCP was humbled by the electorates, Boko pushed for them to join the UDC. After signing memorandum of understanding the two parties worked together and won most the bye elections something that scared the BDP.
Boko’s true leadership credentials came under challenge when the coalition was facing serious problems as one of the contracting partners Botswana Movement Democracy (BMD) was facing split. He navigated the issue well but at the end BMD split leading to the formation of Alliance for Progressives (AP). Some accused him of not acting swiftly when the BMD was facing serious problems.
Fall out with BOFEPUSU
One of the key partners in the UDC coalition was Botswana Federation of Public and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) which contributed immensely for the good performance in 2014.
The relationship hit a rock bottom when BOFEPUSU wanted to intervene in the BMD issue but were told it is an internal thing. BOFEPUSU slowly started to move away from UDC and Boko and many started to doubt if UDC will perform well in the 2019 elections.
Just few weeks before the elections, BOFEPUSU took a resolution not to support any political party and remain neutral. This was a serious setback for Boko and UDC which they expected endorsement from the federation.