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Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko has yet again left party supporters with more questions than answers as he offered no immediate solution to the coalition’s long standing problems with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
While multitudes of UDC supporters expected a definitive response following a seven day ultimatum for Sidney Pilane’s BMD to show cause why they should not be expelled, the UDC D-day only served to announce an extension of the seven day ultimatum.
Not only did the BMD call the UDC leadership’s bluff by not obliging to the terms set out by the coalition’s National Executive Committee, the party leadership also refused to honour a meeting arranged by the UDC leadership on the last day of the ultimatum.
Addressing the media at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng earlier this week Boko went on about his usual rhetoric.
Flanked by other UDC leaders Dumelang Saleshando, Dennis Alexander, Justin Hunyepa and a representative of Botswana People’s Party (BPP), Boko delivered his famous monologue before announcing that they had reached a decision to suspend the BMD from the UDC for 14 days pending the party’s response to charges the BMD had already, blatantly, refused to acknowledge within the initial seven days.
“The National Executive Committee of the UDC has taken a decision to suspend the BMD. We have decided to give them time to go and reflect, then respond to the UDC not later than October 18, 2018,” Boko said.
The BMD had been charged with bringing the UDC into disrepute by “failing to cooperate with the Botswana National Front (BNF) to resolve the deadlock over Moshupa/Manyana and Mmopane/Lentsweletau constituencies, failure to accept that BMD split has weakened its capacity to deliver in the constituencies allocated to it, arousing confusion and anxiety about membership status of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the UDC, and negative resentment countrywide of the BMD leader Sydney Pilane as well as uncontrollable outbursts in the media, and his divisive tendencies.”
In their response to the 14 day suspension the BMD dismissed the suspension as unlawful.
“The position of the BMD is that the purport to suspend the BMD is unlawful for a number of reasons, and is a nullity,” the party said in response.
“The decision is also without a valid basis. The BMD considers itself a member of the UDC in good standing and does not accept nor acknowledge the purported suspension.” The BMD went on to urge their members and candidates to continue with their respective campaigns undeterred and assure the public to have no fear concerning the future.
“It saddens us deeply that the once in a lifetime opportunity for opposition to take state power in 2019 is being squandered over a refusal to accept the imperative to share power borne purely of greed. It is nothing new in Botswana opposition politics.” In a radio interview this past week BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole blamed the current situation on the BCP saying peace had reigned supreme in the coalition before the BCP joined. He dismissed observations that the party’s 2017 split had rendered the BMD incompetent to contest successfully in the 2019 general elections citing as an example the BNF split prior to the 1999 split which saw the BCP coming out the biggest loser despite going into elections with the highest number of opposition members of parliament. It remains to be seen what steps Boko’s UDC will take next in the war against Pilane’s BMD.