As the main opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is still licking its wounds after it suffered yet another defeat at the hands of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party at the just ended polls, political analysts have opined that the coalition leadership should shoulder the blame for poor performance.
The UDC received a rude awakening when it was white washed by the BDP in the southern part of the country. Traditionally, UDC especially the BNF has been very strong in the southern part of the country but in the 2019 general elections, the party came back empty handed without a single constituency in the south and in some cases the margin between the two parties was too wide which shows that electorates were sending a very strong message to the coalition.
University of Botswana political science lecturer, Leonard Sesa is of the view that several factors led to the dismal performance of the UDC. “UDC leader, Duma Boko’s character during presidential debates that were aired on the national television offended many voters and influenced them to vote for the ruling BDP in large numbers. This was a sign of protest against Boko’s behaviour. Another factor is that most of the voters in the south especially Gaborone are very wise and are alert to the political dynamics. Most of them belief that Masisi just like his predecessor, Ian Khama should be given the freedom to rule the country uninterrupted,” Sesa said in his analysis. He is of the view that another factor that contributed to the alliance’s bad performance is that in the build up to the elections; UDC was marred with numerous court battles which dented their credibility in the eyes of voters. According to Sesa, the case between UDC and its former member, Botswana Movement for Democracy dragged for too long and made some voters to start having doubts about the coalition. He says the UDC leadership could have moved swiftly to solve the impasse. In his view, Sesa said the association between Khama and the UDC did not have any impact in the outcome of the results.
Another political analyst, Anthony Morima concurred with Sesa that the standoff between UDC and its former member, BMD really affected the performance of the UDC at the polls. “The matter dragged on for a very long time since 2015 and it caused confusion among electorates. Duma Boko was not proactive in dealing with the matter; UDC could have long kicked out BMD before too much damage was caused,” he reasoned. Regarding the Khama effect, Morima said the relationship between the former president and the UDC had bitter-sweet results. He argues that Khama has assisted the UDC to win some constituencies which have been BDP strongholds such as both Mahalapye constituencies, Palapye, Shoshong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Bobonong and Tonota.
He however said the UDC’s association with Khama might have led to the party to lose 12 parliamentary seats in South adding that voters in the south might have seen UDC as hypocrites by associating with someone they have been criticizing while he was still the head of state. “Even within the UDC there were some who were against the coalition’s association with former president,” Morima concluded.